People who provide unpaid care to others are being invited to have their say on the support they need for themselves as new figures suggested that 32,000 more Surrey residents are now carers due to the pandemic.
Surrey County Council and local NHS organisations have produced a draft three-year carers’ strategy which sets out how services will support carers’ health and wellbeing and improve their lives.
The county council and Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), along with Surrey Heath and North East Hampshire and Farnham CCGs, have worked with partners and carers themselves to draw up the Surrey Carers Strategy 2021 – 24 and are now asking carers to give their feedback on the plan.
The draft strategy was launched as more and more people take on caring roles due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns. With research from Carers UK suggesting a 28 per cent increase nationally in the number of people providing unpaid care to loved ones, there could now be 32,000 more carers in Surrey – on top of the previous estimate of 115,000.
Alison Griffiths, the carers’ champion for Surrey County Council’s Cabinet, said: “Surrey’s unpaid carers – daughters, sons, partners, friends and neighbours – are nothing short of heroic and the contribution they make to this county is enormous. The selfless care they provide holds families together and enables tens of thousands of people across Surrey to get the most out of life despite illness, frailty or disability.
“Their vital role has never been more evident than during the pandemic and ensuing lockdown, when many more people – perhaps thirty thousand more in Surrey – took on caring roles, while many of those who were already carers provided even more care.
“This strategy aims to make Surrey a better place for carers and those they care for. We want to hear from as many carers as possible, both past and present, about our draft plan to make sure we’re getting things right. The input we receive will help us shape the services that are offered to carers of all ages in future.”
The strategy sets out the values and priorities which will underpin support for carers in Surrey and also details a number of specific commitments including:
- a new Surrey Carers Health Check Voucher to improve carers’ health and wellbeing
- a review of carers’ short breaks to ensure they offer an attractive choice
- a new Surrey Carer Contingency Planning Service to reduce the stress of emergencies and ensure that people being looked after will be taken care of
- greater promotion of the new Working Carers Passport to raise awareness of the need for flexible working
- more identification and support for “hidden carers” – those who may not think of themselves as carers
- a new independent Giving Carers a Voice service which will support carers to feed back on their experiences in their own words
Dr Sue Tresman, Independent Carers Lead for Surrey Heartlands and a carer herself, said: “We want to hear from you, our wonderful Surrey carers. Tell us if it looks like the priorities in the strategy are right and if you think the strategy will deliver the sorts of outcomes you need from the Surrey system to help you go on caring if you wish to, and give you a balanced life, a life beyond caring.
“We want to hear from the experts and those experts are you – please support the survey.”
Carers have until 3 January next year to complete a short survey on the draft strategy on the Surrey Says website. Hard copies can be printed and accessible versions of the survey including Easy Read are also available.