Welcome to a very late update of one of my carer forums. These are updates of the groups I run whose members are those caring for someone with mental ill health. For my September SW London carers forum, we were joined by Professor Caroline Glendinning who is the Emerita Prof of Social Policy at the University of York.
- Prof Caroline presents on Carers and personal budgets
Caroline thanks us for having the chance to engage with unpaid carers and a way to learn from them. She was interested in our personal experiences, especially from the experience of caring for someone with a mental illness. She was pleased to see there are carer led groups fighting to engage with services.
Professor Caroline spoke at length regarding how Personalisation and carer policies have developed separately. She mentioned what the choices are disabled people, being either direct Payments/Personal Budgets/Individual Budgets.
She then spoke a bit about Carer’s rights being the importance of having a carer’s Assessment, how Carers Allowance Support should work and also the need for carer respite.
Professor Caroline gave some examples regarding cash schemes, but also highlighted some problems. Comparisons were from the following.
Where schemes were designed to support carers (Germany / Austria)
Plus some plans aim to increase choice for service users (England/Nlds)
Professor Caroline then moved into what trigger her research into these areas. These were “How do local authorities recognise/balance the rights, needs and wishes of service users and carers?”.
She wanted to find out what roles should carers play in assessment /planning support? Carers at the group were interested if there was there any consultation or involvement that was flagged up by her research.
Professor Caroline surveyed many Local authorities by running.
Lead officer interviews
Focus groups with front-line practitioners
Interviews with service users and carers
The results from her research lead to several findings, which Professor Caroline explained at length to the forum.
- Joint/holistic family assessments desirable – carers usually involved
- In practice assessments focused on service users – little attention to carers’ needs, apart from ‘willing and able’
- Carers offered separate assessments but low take up
- Even where separate carer assessment done, little consistent practice in bringing 2 together
- Service user budget reduced by carer support
- No guidance on carers’ role in planning service user support
- Carers often involved in managing service user personal budget
- Carers’ organisations not involved in developing personal budget policies/practice
- Poor coordination of subsequent reviews of service users’ and carers’ needs
Discussion time from the group
Professor Caroline wanted to find out our experiences in regards to her research paper. There was a lengthy discussion on the following.
What were members experiences?
Any feelings regarding Assessments
How did people feel about Planning support
When did Reviews take place?
Professor Caroline then spoke about the conclusions of her research
Carers not involved in developing personal budget policies/practice
Failure to assess carer needs:
Just asked ‘willing and able’
Too few separate carer assessments
Service user budgets routinely reduced because of carer help
Funds for carer breaks included in SU budgets
This was a brief update to my SW London mental health carers forum.