A growing awareness of carers’ needs
In the early 1990s there was a growing awareness about the needs of carers and local Councils were encouraged to provide more assistance to carers in their area. In 1994, Bolton Council funded the local Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) to set up a Carers Support Project. The funding was used to employ a full-time Carers Support Worker and a part-time Administrative Worker to set up an information service as timely information was considered a top priority.
Early work focused on awareness-raising, signposting carers to services, providing information through a helpline and newsletter and offering emotional support. Bolton Carers Support and Bolton Council took part in a national ‘Carers Impact Programme’ led by the King’s Fund, London, a health and social care ‘think tank’. From 1996 to 1999 Bolton was one of six UK ‘Demonstrator Projects’ researching what practical action made a difference to carers’ lives. Kings Fund researchers worked closely with Bolton Carers Support, Bolton Council, and a multi-agency group, undertaking detailed interviews and focus groups with carers about the impact of services. Halfway through the programme researchers revisited carers to assess what had improved through joint work. Practical changes were made to local services, carers assessments, social care induction and staff training (for example, including a Carer Awareness session in staff induction for the first time).
From the work in Bolton and the other Demonstrator Sites, the Kings Fund developed ‘The Carers Compass’ outlining the 8 key needs of carers. This has underpinned our work ever since.
Carers want a good quality of life for the person they care for and control of their own life. They want:
(The Carers Compass: directions for improving support to carers, Kings Fund, 1998).
Over time, the initial awareness-raising, information and emotional support work developed to include short breaks provision and training. In 2010 we moved to the local authority owned Carers Resource Centre at Thicketford Centre. Bolton Council provides low cost office facilities and the building is shared with Council staff, a local authority drop-in and day care facility, Age UK Bolton’s Active Ageing activities, Crossroads Care and Bolton Dementia Support Group. Bolton Carers Support is now looking to expand its range of services further and the next few years promise to be exciting.