We have 2 specialist workers who support carers of adults with learning disabilities (LD) across Bristol and South Gloucestershire. In the past this work was funded by statutory services, however since April 2018 we have had to find this funding ourselves from alternative sources. This costs us £45,000 per year; and we are extremely grateful to the charitable trusts who have supported us so far. In the last year, funds from John James Bristol Foundation and James Tudor Foundation have helped us towards the costs of delivering this vital specialist support. We will continue trying to raise funds to keep this valuable service going.
We will also keep working with decision makers in statutory services to recognise the particular needs of LD carers. We want them to include this specialist support in future commissioning. In the meantime, we are reviewing the service and have sent a survey to LD carers so they can help shape the service going forward. We are reviewing the kind of support carers have received and found helpful, what would make the service better, and what they think they might need in the future.
The current service provides both practical and emotional support to carers, which includes:
• one-to-one casework
• specialist information provision
• lunchtime discussion meetings.
Service users are also supported to help influence local provision, and to respond to local and national consultation. In the last year, we have supported 160 carers and their families. This included:
• improving family finances
• improving emotional well-being and resilience
• improving access to services
• training and employment for the person they care for.
When carers contact us, we help with a whole range of issues. These can include:
• accessing social care and assessments
• helping to talk to professionals
• providing emotional and peer support
• planning for the future
• getting a break.
In the last 12 months, we helped 47 carers access a statutory Carer’s Assessment resulting in £10,900 of Local Authority grants towards a break. And we helped 18 carers to apply for benefits which they didn’t know that they were eligible for – between them, over £100,000 in benefits has now been awarded. We also helped carers to access charity grants for household goods and to take a respite break.
National research (Public Health Observatory, People with Learning Disabilities 2015 report) shows that demands on LD carers are unrelenting, and even more pressing compared to the situation for all carers:
• 51.4% spend 100+ hours per week caring, compared to 38.1% for all carers in England
• 74.3% have been caring for more than 20 years, compared to 20.1% for all carers
• 30.2% were not in paid employment, compared to 20.5% for all carers • 87.4% of carers live with their LD family member, compared to 73% for all carers.
If you are an LD carer and want support, you can contact:
Tracy Holder (South Gloucestershire) 0117 958 9904
Chris Chart (Bristol) 0117 958 9970
This article appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Carers News. Read more news for local carers: download Carers News.