Joe Pidgeon, chairman of Healthwatch Nottinghamshire, guest column: The role of carers is vital

Lack of awareness of services, isolation and the loss of direction when the caring role comes to an end are some of the issues that carers can face.

Nationally, the picture of carers is often one of negative physical and mental health impact, with many having to stop working because of their caring responsibilities.

Nottinghamshire is home to more than 79,000 carers, with many undocumented across the county.

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Nationally it has been calculated that everyone has a three in five chance of being a carer.

Later this year, the Care Bill will introduce new and improved rights for carers and greater emphasis on carer wellbeing.

More carers will be able to qualify for assessments, receive the same level of care as other service users and receive a support plan with their personal budgets.

The recent Nottinghamshire Carers’ Conference, “What’s Next for Carers?” sought to help carers combat the difficulties associated with their role. 

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The conference featured workshops on the upcoming Care Bill, the new Nottinghamshire County Council Carers’ strategy and carer health.  Carers were also able to pose questions to a panel of senior managers in the NHS, the County Council and Carers’ organisations.

The strong messages from the day were that carers want information and advice to be more readily accessible and easy to find, preferably in the form of a “one stop shop” for their information needs.

They also had a lot of feedback about the role of GPs in supporting carers, and felt that this needed more focus. Carers at the Conference said that it was important for carers to come forward and say what they need, say what works for them and what doesn’t.

Healthwatch Nottinghamshire was established to gather the views and experiences of people who use health and social care services. This includes young people, children, the elderly and carers. If you would like to learn more about Healthwatch or have an experience to share, please contact us on 0115 963 5179.