The annual State of Caring 2019 Conference took place this month and focused on the findings of Care UK’s latest State of Caring survey.  The research helps to provide a barometer of carers’ experience of services in the past twelve months and shines a light on the physical, mental and financial impact that caring can have.

Carers support in Surrey Heartlands is valued at £1.6bn but this comes at a high personal cost with many carers suffering from their own health problems as a result of their caring role as well as loneliness, social isolation and the need for support to help stay in work.

This year’s report evidenced that 39% of carers are struggling to make ends meet and 66% are regularly using their own income or savings to pay for care and support services, equipment or products for the person they care for. Not surprisingly the matter of the long awaited green paper on social care funding was discussed but that aside there has been a number of positive developments to report on not least the NHS Long Term Plan which is the biggest ever settlement for health and included new opportunities to engage with and support carers.

Surrey Heartlands has risen to the challenge and is leading the way on a number of fronts.

  • The Surrey Heartlands GP Carers Breaks service has just been cited in the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) best practice guide and meets the challenge to provide personal budgets for carers.
  • Surrey Heartlands practices were also the testbed for NHS England’s GP Carers Quality Markers with 78 GP practices taking the opportunity to evidence their ‘Carer Friendly’ Practice to provide an evidence base for CQC inspection.
  • Surrey Heartlands Young Carers developed their own Top Tips for GPs and this has been shared with all local GP practices.

Debbie Hustings, NHS Partnership Manager for Carers in Surrey Heartlands and East Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group explained her ambition: “Our recent Staff Carers Survey launched during Carers Week will help inform the development of a new carers’ policy to help us achieve our objective to be the most Carer Friendly employer in Surrey.

“The launch of the Surrey NHS Carers Key Performance Indicators also gathered plenty of interest at the conference as we move to ensure that we are truly providing an integrated approach to supporting carers across our system.”