Engagement with Healthwatch champions, volunteers, and carers support services in the local area have enabled us to contact carers. Eleven carers provided case studies and an additional twenty carers completed the survey.
The overall findings of this engagement, based on what carers have told us, show that:
- The Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of unpaid carers. This has been the result of changes to the support and contact from health and social care services and the demands of the caring role. Attempts to navigate the social care system and concerns about the welfare of the person that they are caring for has also had a negative impact on the mental health of carers.
- Additional factors impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of carers have been identified.
- Carers have had positive experiences of health and social care services and have valued the communication, regular contact and the quality of care that those services have provided.
- Visiting restrictions at some of the care homes in the Stockton-on-Tees area have been confusing and conflicting. Facilitation of contact and communication at some care homes has been lacking, leaving carers feeling worried and helpless, and not knowing if their loved one is well.
- It is important that carers have regular contact with health and social care services to help support those that they are caring for. Carers need to feel valued, and it is important that they have someone to talk to.
- Receiving support and information from local services has helped carers cope day-to-day.
- Carers need support and guidance, with information that is easy and clear to understand, and to know that there are a range of support services (especially mental health services) available to them and the person that they are caring for.
Based on the findings, the following recommendations have been made:
- Ensure that carers are able to take breaks and that the return of essential services is prioritised.
- Place high priority on guidance, information and advice for carers that is adapted to their needs.
- Prioritise carers health and wellbeing and deliver targeted mental health for carers and those that they care for.
- Provide more guidance to care homes in relation to visiting policies, and to ensure priority in facilitating contact and communication between carers and those that they care for.
- Delivery of healthcare appointments that take into account the different communication needs of carers.
- Health and Social Care Services to provide appropriate and regular contact and communication with carers to support them in their caring role.
Download a copy of our report to find out more, including responses from:
- Impact on Teesside
- Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
- North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
- Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group
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