Carers Count Event Round-Up

Last month’s Carers Count event, hosted by Portsmouth Carers Service, was a huge success. An incredible range of delegates, including unpaid carers from around the city and many professionals from different health and social care organisations, saw the launch of Health and Care Portsmouth’s new strategy – Portsmouth Plan for Carers.

The John Pounds Centre staff kicked off the day-long event with a seated exercise/warm up session – which was very well received. Ben Muller, Assistant Team Manager – Portsmouth Carers Service, then welcomed the delegation and the guest speakers.

Andy Biddle (Director of Adult Care – PCC) highlighted the value of unpaid carers and the need to work as a community to support them. He introduced the importance of health and care organisations working with carers to develop services, aiming for ‘nothing about me without me’ in Portsmouth. Andy then shared his personal experience as a carer and his hope that the new plan will ‘make a positive difference for our carers, I hope this plan feels right, makes us proud of the care in our community and helps us help you as carers.’

Pauline Morris (an unpaid carer, Community Support Worker for MENCAP and volunteer with Barnardo’s and Healthwatch Portsmouth) shared her experience as a carer and how caring has passed from one generation to the next in her family: carers becoming cared for. How each generation has changed their views on accepting help and support not just from family members, but society as a whole.  Pauline highlighted the importance of knowledge and having the right information accessible at the right time and in a way that is easy to understand.

The national picture of caring was discussed by Clare Rachwal (Deputy Head of Market Development & Community Engagement – PCC). Looking at the progress that has been made in recent years, what works, what doesn’t, and what should we aim for as a society. Clare acknowledged the reality of now, how the pandemic and cost of living crisis has affected everyone and impacted health and social care. Sharing several alarming statistics from the Carers UK – State of Caring Report 2022, including: 41% of carers haven’t taken a break from their caring role in the last year.

Clare then introduced The Portsmouth Plan for Carers 2022-2024. She explained how Health and Care Portsmouth are working together with carers to improve how our services work for carers. They have agreed a set of shared values which will underpin all we do:

  • We respect carers
  • We know how important unpaid carers are
  • We know every carer’s life is different
  • We will listen to and involve carers in all we do

You can see the full plan here: Portsmouth Plan for Carers 2022-2024 (healthwatchportsmouth.co.uk)

The mic was then handed over to the delegates. Having had chance to discuss three points around their tables, which each had a mix of carers and professionals. These discussions were the highlight of the day and focused on: carers breaks; respite and support. Everyone had the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences. There will be a follow-up of the points/ideas raised from the event at a later date. These will be incorporated into our plans and help to continually improve support for carers.

Further discussions took place around a variety of information stands. Many local services and support organisations had the chance to speak to carers and professionals. They shared resources and information about how they can support people in their caring role.

In the afternoon, delegates had the opportunity to visit two of five information sessions:

  • Emergency Planning for Carers
  • Caring in the 21st Century: Using technology to support care and independent living
  • Healthy Headspace: Carer Wellbeing
  • Make a Difference: Healthwatch Portsmouth Research on your experience of access to healthcare
  • It Takes a Team to Care for a Community: Services in your community

These sessions were incredibly popular giving carers and professionals a more detailed look at specific areas of interest.

When asked what part they enjoyed most, one carer commented, ‘All of it! Extremely informative, I could have spent over an hour visiting the stands, everyone so keen, approachable and knowledgeable. Guest speakers passionate and good to hear about future plans. Also good choice of breakout sessions. Good venue too!’

The day ended with an amazingly positive vibe from all who attended. So much discussion from all sides of the table. Proving that co-production is not only possible, but very much the way forward.

By Laura Pryde-Jarman.