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​Council and NHS seek views on proposal to support thousands of carers in Southwark


With an estimated 14,000 ‘hidden’ carers in the borough, many of whom are under the age of 18, Southwark Council and NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group have created a range of initiatives to identify and support people who look after family or friends who are ill, frail or disabled.

Residents, especially carers, are now being asked to give their views on the draft Carers’ Strategy, which proposes to introduce a support package for carers as well as pro-actively go out and find carers to make them aware of the support available, rather than wait for them to come for help – which can often be at a crisis point.

The census of 2011 indicated Southwark has around 21,000 people who care for someone else on an unpaid basis, and the majority (around two thirds) are not known to the council, NHS or any other organisation that could be supporting them.* Around 2,300 of Southwark’s carers are young people aged under 18-years-old.

Catherine McDonald, cabinet member for adult social care, health and equalities, said: “In Southwark we value very highly the essential contribution carers make to our borough and we want to ensure that we offer the best support and that we are reaching all our local carers.

“Carers have told us they can feel isolated, can have health problems of their own and need easy access to respite and health advice and information. What we need is to hear from carers about the best way to do this, particularly the thousands of them who aren’t already receiving support.”

Dr Amr Zeineldine, a local GP and chair of NHS Southwark CCG, said: “As the organisation that plans and funds health services for Southwark residents, it is important that we understand what carers think about our ideas for helping them to stay healthy. Developing this draft strategy has been a joint piece of work and only by working more closely together can health and social care respond to the needs of carers.”

The strategy includes proposals such as:

  • Creating an online support pack and alert for GPs so they can signpost carers to relevant services.

  • Develop new and existing services to meet the needs of carers such as the centre of excellence for people with dementia and other complex needs.

  • Raising awareness and reaching out to people in a caring role and working with local GPs, healthcare professionals, schools, employers and faith groups to recognise and support the role of carers.

  • Work with young carers to design and commission a new service that directly supports their needs.

  • Promote activities that help carers stay in or return to work, education or training.

Verinder Mander from Southwark Carers said: “This is a great opportunity to really reach out to carers in Southwark and tailor services that will really make a difference to them and the loved ones they are caring for.”

The draft strategy and consultation information is available on the council’s website at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/carersstrategy.

Anyone who would still like to find out more about the support available to them as a carer can find more local information online at www.southwark.gov.uk http://www.southwarkcarers.org.uk/  or http://www.carersuk.org/  or call Southwark Carers on 020 7708 7797.​​