Work to support ‘hidden carers’ in Herts and west Essex wins national award

A partnership approach to finding and supporting Hertfordshire and west Essex’s army of hidden carers scooped a prestigious national award on Wednesday 21 November.

The 2018 Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards saw organisations from across the Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) shortlisted in six categories.

“To be shortlisted in so many categories at these highly-regarded awards was wonderful but I am delighted that the ‘System led support for carers’ award went to a STP-wide project,” said Deborah Fielding, Chief Executive Officer Lead for Hertfordshire and west Essex STP.

“By working together, health, social care and charities across our area are better at identifying carers and then helping them stay well so that they can carry on caring for their loved ones.”

The HSJ judging panel was impressed that all health and social care organisations in Hertfordshire and west Essex, including community nursing, mental health providers and county councils, were working closely with community and voluntary organisations like Carers in Herts and HertsHelp, in Hertfordshire, and Carers First and Living Well Essex, to ensure all services reach out to carers and support them.  Support can take many forms, but can include practical help to enable a carer to take a break whilst their loved one is looked after, or emotional support for someone whose partner has dementia.

Tim Anfilogoff, Head of Community Resilience for Herts Valleys NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who leads on carers’ improvement work across the STP, said: “Unpaid friend and family carers make up 10 per cent of the population of Hertfordshire and west Essex and we need to ensure they get the advice and help they need.

“With carers’ champions working in GP practices and social care, libraries, community nursing and even the fire service helping to identify and support those who are caring for a friend or relative, we are building truly carer-aware communities. As well as making sure that carers get flu jabs and health checks from GP surgeries we can also help carers access detailed advice, practical help, support from social care or simply get the opportunity to meet with other carers locally for a cup of tea and a chat to break down their sense of isolation.”

The approach is already showing positive results.  In the west of Hertfordshire, for example, the number of carers taking up their GP’s health check offer has increased by 40% in the last three years to 2,023, while 5,900 carers took up the offer of a flu jab (up 32%). Such preventive support benefits the carer, their friends and family members, and the health and care ‘system’ as a whole.

Hertfordshire and west Essex is one of NHS England’s first ‘Carer Exemplars’, sharing best practice nationally, with initiatives like an online tool to support self-care and the ability to register online as a carer – making individuals simultaneously known to adult care services, the charity Carers in Hertfordshire and to GPs.

If you’re a carer and need support, visit Carers in Herts’ website at www.carersinherts.org.uk or call 01992 586969 and Carers First in west Essex www.carersfirst.org.uk/essex or call 0300 3031555. There’s more information for people living in Hertfordshire at: www.hertshelp.net and in west Essex at: www.carersfirst.org.uk/essex

  • The photo shows, from left, presenter Sanjeev Bhaskar; Dr Nicolas Small, Chair of Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) and Clinical Lead for Herts and west Essex STP; Tim Anfilogoff, Head of Community Resilience at HVCCG and Carers Lead for the STP; Carole Whittle, Health and Wellbeing Manager, Carers in Hertfordshire; David Evans, Director of Commissioning, HVCCG, Jen Kenward, Experience of Care Lead – Community, Primary & Integrated Care, NHS England