A partnership project to find Hertfordshire and west Essex’s army of ‘undercover carers’ and offer them the support they need to look after friends and family has been shortlisted for a prestigious ‘Health Service Journal’ award.
Winners of the ‘Support for carers’ category will be announced on Wednesday 21 November at a ceremony in London.
Tim Anfilogoff, Head of Community Resilience for Herts Valleys NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who leads on carers’ improvement work across the Hertfordshire and west Essex area, said: “Carers make up 10 per cent of the population of Hertfordshire and west Essex. They often experience real stress and ill health as a result of not getting the advice and help they need.
“Often the help carers need is out there, but they don’t see themselves as carers, just family members getting on doing what needs doing. Sometimes people don’t realise there is any help out there to find. That’s why it’s so important that all the relevant agencies – health, social care and charities – work together to help them stay well and carry on caring for their loved ones.”
Helping people to get the early help they need to stay healthy is a key part of the Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s vision. The Partnership, whose members include all the NHS and social care organisations across the area, is committed to having ‘carers’ champions’ working across its organisations, from health and social care to community nursing and the fire service. GP surgeries are also working to identify and support more carers.
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.
Beverley Flowers, Chief Executive of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We are delighted that the work we have been doing over many years in various partnerships, to identify and support carers sooner, has been shortlisted for this award. Along with the fact that carers themselves tell us they want this help to stay well and keep caring, it’s an acknowledgement that we’re on the right path and this work is a real opportunity to spread best practice across the whole of the area.”
The STP is working closely with community and voluntary organisations like Carers in Herts and HertsHelp, in Hertfordshire, and Carers First and Living Well Essex, in west Essex, to ensure all services reach out to carers and support them, for example, making sure a carer who looks after a partner with dementia 24/7 has someone to talk to for emotional support or gets some practical help to have a break.
Herts and west Essex is also one of NHS England’s first ‘Carer Exemplars’, sharing best practice nationally.
“Identification is crucial in all this work,” added Tim. “There is nothing worse than meeting an exhausted carer who says: ‘I wish I’d known this help was available five years ago.’ It is really important for the carer, for the person they look after and for the NHS that we help them link up with the support that exists as soon as we can.”
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 https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/essex or call 0300 3031555. There’s more information for people living in Hertfordshire at: https://www.hertshelp.net/ and in west Essex at: https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/essex