Supporting carers in the Borders – the role of integration

Section: Health and Social Care IntegrationThe ALLIANCEType: News Item Date Published: 12th December 2019

Read a summary of the findings from the ALLIANCE’s engagement with carers and professionals in the Borders.

The ALLIANCE’s Integration Support team hosted an event at Galashiels Volunteer Hall on the 7th November to gather views on carers’ experiences of both health and social care integration and the Carers Act. To do so, guided table discussions were held around each theme.

In the morning, discussions around health and social care integration featured:

  • Praise for local organisations such as the Borders Carers Centre and Borders Care Voice for the work that they do in the local area, with attendees singling out their ability to work collaboratively across different sectors.
  • Recognition of the need for improved communication between partners and better information sharing locally, with many attendees noting that, if not for funding restraints, the Borders Carers Centre and Borders Care Voice would be able to achieve a lot more.
  • Calls for carers to be included in strategic planning routinely rather than reactively.
  • A lack of awareness amongst carers of the process of health and social care integration.
  • And an acknowledgement that conflicting organisational cultures within the NHS, the Scottish Borders Council and the third sector are preventing organisations from working together to raise awareness of integration.

In the afternoon, discussions around the Carers Act featured:

  • Praise for ‘What Matters Hubs’ which provide a community connection for Carers in the Borders and Community Link Workers, who play a key role in terms of signposting.
  • Consensus that the Carers Act is very dependent on integrated working, with attendees arguing that different partners bring different skills. And that utilising different organisation’s networks creates more avenues to raise awareness of the services that are available to carers.
  • Agreement that jargon and inaccessible terminology are acting as barriers to ordinary people and carers fully understanding the Carers Act.
  • And a need for new engagement approaches to be considered to raise awareness of the Carers Act.

In addition to these table discussions, the event featured presentations from Borders Care Voice (this link will take you away from our website), the Coalition of Carers in Scotland (this link will take you away from our website), the Carers Trust Scotland (this link will take you away from our website) and the Borders Carers Centre (this link will take you away from our website).

Jenny Smith (Chief Officer of Borders Care Voice) provided an update on local experiences of integration:

  • ‘Trying to change the course of the twin tankers (the Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders) was never going to be a quick task. However, legislation for integration came at a time when those tankers were also tasked with operating with a smaller crew and less fuel.’

Shubhanna Hussain-Ahmed (Partnership Development Officer at the Coalition of Carers in Scotland) spoke about carers’ experiences of both integration and the Carers Act:

  • ‘It would appear that at a local and national level, carers are far more aware of their rights now. However, despite the increase in awareness of their rights, many carers are still reporting that those rights are not being implemented or realised in practice.’

Scott Lafferty (Development Manager at the Carers Trust Scotland) gave an overview of the Carers Trust’s network partners and their experiences of the Carers Act:

  • ‘The Carers Act promotes a more holistic, person-centred approach and, from the experiences of the Carers Trust’s network partners, has encouraged NHS and Health and Social Care Partnership staff to work far more collaboratively.’

And Debbie Rutherford (Information & Training Officer at the Borders Carers Centre) summarised the work that the Borders Carers Centre has done to support the implementation of the Carers Act:

  • ‘One of the most important aspects of (the Carers Act) was to ensure carer engagement every step of the way, and this is something we are passionate about.’

The full report from the event can be downloaded below.

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