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Category: News

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Applications for grants now closed

We are not currently accepting applications for grants.

Berkshire Carers Service is inviting charities and community groups across Berkshire who support carers to apply for grant funding.

Awards  are available to fund projects and activities that will make a positive difference to the lives of carers.

To date, Berkshire Carers Service has awarded funding to Younger People With Dementia to provide a specialist Admiral Nurse in East Berkshire and to run a support group. The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust have been given a grant to continue their Nature Memories Café at Thatcham for people living with dementia and their carers.

Deborah Wilson, chair of Trustees, said that while Berkshire Carers Service no longer provides direct services to carers its Trustees are committed to ensuring its funds are used in a way that is as effective and full of impact on carers as possible.

She said: “We aim to make a positive difference to the lives of carers through our grant awards and positively welcome applications from organisations whose work addresses the needs of carers.”

To start the application process, please visit fill in the expression of interest form, which can be found by clicking here.

Applications need to be received by Wednesday September 6.

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New data shows nation is not geared up to care

More than half the nation isn’t geared up to care for their family or friends, nor have they considered what would happen if they needed to be cared for, according to new data released by Carers Trust.

A YouGov survey carried out on behalf of Carers Trust showed that 58 per cent of people haven’t spoken to their family and friends about what care they would need if they couldn’t look after themselves in the future.

However, a third (33 per cent), said they would like to be cared for at home rather than in a residential setting, despite 80 per cent not having made any financial plans.

While 46 per cent said they had either not thought about caring for someone else in the future much or at all.

No provisions in place for older carers

These findings raise grave concerns that as the older population is living longer, little or no provisions are being put in place.

The crisis in adult social care funding could mean that a generation of people are left unprepared for caring both practically and financially.

The report also comes in the wake of calls by David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, for families to take up more responsibility for their older parents.

Many families reaching breaking point

According to the 2011 Census, there are more than 1.8million known unpaid carers over the age of 60 in England looking after a sick or disabled family member. More than 87,000 are over the age of 85.

Many go unidentified, as they don’t recognise themselves as carers or are not identified by services.

Gail Scott-Spicer, CEO of Carers Trust, said: “Many families are reaching breaking point because they’re caring 24/7 with little or no support. As three in five of us will become an unpaid carer at some stage in our lives, it’s important that we talk about it and prepare for it now.

The Government can help further to ease the burden of carers and the uncertainty of the future by investing more funding.”

A recent study of 100 older carers looked what preparations had been made for their future.

The majority have made a will or trusts, but none had spoken about the possible need for care until they became carers, and even then most had not spoken to relatives about how much care they would be prepared to give or receive from people close to them.

Others simply found it too difficult to talk about and did not want to discuss it.

 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,165 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21 and 22 December 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


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Young carers struggling to fulfil their ambitions

A new survey by Carers Trust has revealed that young carers across the UK are struggling to get the most out of their education and are in danger of not fulfilling their ambitions due to their caring role.

Of the young adult carers we surveyed over half (53 per cent) were having problems in coping with schoolwork with nearly 60 per cent struggling to meet deadlines. A startling number – 73 per cent – told us that they have to take time out of school or learning specifically to care for a family member. A third admitted that they have to skip school most weeks.

“I wanted to be like everyone else…”

With 82 per cent of young adult carers also reporting stress, a worrying picture is emerging, revealing the extent to which their caring role is severely affecting their future choices. 

A female young adult carer says:I wanted to be like everyone else and go to university, but I suffered a breakdown, and only achieved the lowest grade in my degree. I couldn’t go far from my parents as I had responsibilities and their lives really went to s**t with me not being there to run the house. I haven’t gone back to live there as it is no good for my mental health but their struggle is far greater now which brings me a lot of guilt.

700,000 young carers in the UK

There are an estimated 700,000 children and young people across the UK, some as young as five-years-old, who are caring for family members. This is likely a conservative figure as many are hidden from view.

Most care for a parent or other close family member, day in, day out, and shockingly, at least 13,000 young carers are providing care for over 50 hours a week on top of their studies.

A young carer explains how caring has made it more of a challenge to achieve his dream job:Because I became a carer during my GCSE’s which resulted in me having anxiety and depression, so my focus in school and in lessons went down. And most of the time due to my self-harm and anxiety problems I wouldn’t go to my lessons.

Giving young carers support to achieve their dreams and ambitions

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said:  “Our new survey data paints a very worrying picture for the hundreds of thousands of young carers across the UK, if the right support and guidance isn’t in place. Being a young carer should not mean that a child’s future hopes, dreams, and ambitions are shattered.

“We know young carers miss or cut short on average 10 weeks of school a year as a direct result of their caring role, and those aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET). We must make sure young carers get the support they need so they can enjoy their childhoods like any other young person and achieve their ambitions.”

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Berkshire Carers Service awards funding to charity that helps younger people with dementia

A local charity, YPWD (Berkshire) which helps younger people with dementia, has been given £18,000 funding by Berkshire Carers Service* to run two innovative pilot projects to support the family and friends who care for them.

The money enables YPWD (Berkshire) to provide a specialist Admiral Nurse in east Berkshire for carers and to set up a support group for them.

In Berkshire, it is estimated there are 622 people with young onset dementia – those under the age of 65, with around 230 known to health services. People with young onset dementia often experience a more rapid decline in their health and quality of life and their carers consequently face social isolation and an increase in carer stress.

The Admiral Nurse will seek to offset this by assessing a carer’s needs and offering tailored emotional and practical support. This post will initially be provided one day a week and will complement the provision already offered in the west of the county – the first such post in the country.  SweetTree Home Care Services, working with Dementia UK, will provide the Admiral Nurse.

YWPD (Berkshire) have also been awarded funds to set up a support group and to run events and activities for carers, and particularly, those whose loved one has either had to enter long term care or has passed on.

Dr Jacqueline Hussey, Chair of Trustees with YPWD Berkshire, said: “We were so pleased to receive the good news that Berkshire Carers Service had agreed to provide funding for us to run these pilot projects.  This funding will make a tremendous difference to the lives of those living with dementia and we are very grateful to Berkshire Carers Service for enabling us to undertake these projects.” 

Deborah Wilson, Chair of Berkshire Carers Service Trustees, said the organisation was delighted to be able to fund these innovative schemes.

She said: “These projects will be important additions to the excellent work YPWD are doing to make a real difference to the lives of those living with dementia and their carers in Berkshire. “

YPWD (Berkshire) aim to seek statutory funding to enable the Admiral Nurse role to continue after the pilot project has ended, thereby replicating services in the west of Berkshire.

*Berkshire Carers Service no longer provides direct services to carers but its Trustees continue to ensure its funds are used in a way that is as effective and full of impact on carers as possible.

 ·         Younger People with Dementia (Berkshire) aims to support people living with dementia diagnosed under the age of 65 and their family and carers

 ·         The needs of younger people with dementia and their carers differ greatly from older people

 ·         Young Onset Dementia affects adults between the ages of 30-64

 ·        Having dementia at a younger age is associated with a greater number of unmet needs and unmet needs are associated with an increase in neuropsychiatric symptoms. This, together with increased carer stress, is major risk factor for institutionalisation. (Bakker, 2013).  Specifically, the study found that an increase in the number of unmet needs leads to the occurrence or worsening of neuropsychiatric symptoms

 ·         Studies have shown that the indirect cost of illness in younger persons with dementia (informal care cost, treatment and mortality costs) are up to 16 times those of older people.

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Stay Well & Get Your Flu Jab

Make sure you stay well this winter by getting the flu jab. shutterstock_56473624

Carers, people aged 65 or over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women are eligible for free flu vaccinations.

Young children between 2 and 4 and those in school years 1, 2 and 3 are also offered the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray.

Flu vaccinations are one of the most effective ways that people can protect themselves from the risk of serious illness It is vital that those who are eligible have the free flu vaccine every year to protect them against different flu strains that are circulating.

Flu is a highly contagious infection and, while healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, for some people who are more susceptible to the effects of flu, it can lead to more serious illnesses or make existing conditions worse.

The vaccine is available at GP surgeries and in most local pharmacies.

Groups being offered the free flu vaccine are:

  • carers
  • those aged 65 or over
  • people who have an underlying health condition such as diabetes, chronic respiratory, heart or kidney diseases, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, weakened immune systems, liver disease and those recovering from strokes
  • pregnant women.

Other things you can do to keep well include:

  • Keeping yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious
  • Always taking prescribed medicines as directed
  • Making sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve.

For further information about the flu vaccination, please download the NHS booklet The Flu Vaccination or visit the NHS website.



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Pressure Points: Carers and the NHS

Due to a lack of appropriate support in the community, unpaid carers are reluctantly taking their loved ones to A&E, according to new research published by Carers UK. The charity’s report comes as the NHS prepares for its annual challenge of increased A&E visits and hospital admissions during the winter months. Look after your wellbeing

Carers identified serious difficulties accessing primary and community support services, with 1 in 5 saying they had no option but to take their loved one to A&E because it was impossible to see a district nurse or a GP out of hours, and 1 in 10 saying they didn’t know where else to go.

The report, Pressure Points, found that of the 4 in 10 carers who have taken their loved one to A&E in the past 12 months believe their admission could have been prevented. Carers believed these admissions could have been prevented with more (55%) or higher quality support (50%) for the person they care for, more local support for them as a carer (32%) or access to a district nurse (25%). 

A reduction in the provision of local care and support services is contributing to a rise in A&E visits and hospital admissions, as families say they have nowhere else to turn. Indeed, there were over 500,000 more visits to A&E in the first quarter of 2016 than the same period last year.  

This growing demand on the NHS is forcing many people to be discharged from hospital too early, often without the right support in place at home and without proper consultation with their family. Over half of carers (58%) said that the person they care for had been discharged from hospital too early; with 12% saying their loved one had to be readmitted at a result. Not only is this counterproductive for the health of the person being cared for but it also causes undue stress and anxiety for families and friends who are often unprepared to take on caring responsibilities or coordinate aftercare themselves.

A lack of community health and care support is not only resulting in more people being admitted – or readmitted – to hospital, but it is also leading to many people having to stay in hospital for longer than necessary as they wait for an appropriate care package to be put in place to enable them to go home. What’s more, the cost to the NHS of delays in discharging older patients alone is £820 million a year; with the number of delayed discharges, and therefore costs, continuing to rise.

Helena Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “The majority of care provided in England is not by doctors, nurses or care workers, but by family and friends. These carers have told us that they aren’t able access the support they need, when they need it, from community health and care services, so they are reluctantly having to turn to A&E.

“What’s more, a lack of consultation, support and information at the point their loved one is discharged from hospital means that many families are taking on a caring role in a crisis and feel unprepared. This isn’t sustainable and is leading to many people being readmitted to hospital shortly after they’ve been discharged, piling more pressure on an already stretched NHS.

“With more and more families picking up caring responsibilities and older people with care needs being encouraged to stay at home for longer, a step-change is urgently needed to boost investment in community services and involve carers in decisions about the support they, and their loved ones, need to manage at home.”

Carers UK is calling for:

·         A Carer Friendly NHS programme, introducing a new duty on the NHS to identify carers and promote their health and wellbeing, as well as policies which ensure carers are involved in decision making around hospital admissions and discharges, and the adoption of a Carer Passport scheme

·         Increased funding for social care, with the Government putting in place a sustainable funding settlement for social care and ring fencing funding for carer breaks

·         Greater access to social care and health care in the community, including looking to new technologies to facilitate virtual health consultations and access to electronic patient records

·         Greater support from primary care services to better help carers look after their own health, including annual health checks for carers and free flu jabs

Download a copy of Carers UK’s Pressure points: carers and the NHS report here.

Carers UK recognises that deciding to care or continue caring for someone who is coming out of hospital can be very difficult. The charity has published a Coming out of hospital factsheet which outlines carers’ rights during the hospital discharge process, the steps that should be followed before the person is discharged from hospital and advice on what to do if things go wrong.

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Wrap up this winter

Cold weather can be a worry, particularly for those in later life. As people get older their bodies respond differently and this can leave them more vulnerable in cold weather. warm-house

But with a little preparation, and by following some simple suggestions, you can help ourselves to stay healthy, safe and as comfortable as possible in winter. More suggestions can be found in Age UK’s Winter Wrapped Up guide.

Keeping warm both inside and outside your home can help reduce your risk of serious health problems that are more common in the colder months, such as chest infections, heart attacks and strokes.

Getting ready for the cold weather – which can start as early as October – means that you’re more likely to keep warm and well.

Here are some things you can do to stay safe and ward off the winter chills:

  • Get your heating system serviced every year by a qualified engineer to ensure it’s running safely and efficiently
  • Never block air vents and if you have wood-burning, coal or gas heaters make sure there’s adequate ventilation
  • If water pipes freeze they can burst. Make sure you know where the main stopcock is and check that it’s easy to turn so you can turn off the water if you need to
  • Have your electric blanket serviced at least every three years
  • Make sure your smoke alarm is working. You can ask your local fire service to check your home for fire safety. It’s free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted
  • Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a gas appliance
  • Make sure you claim all the financial support you can to help with heating bills
  • Dress in plenty of layers and make sure you have warm shoes or boots with non-slip soles
  • Keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on steps or paths in icy weather
  • Consider fitting a grab rail if you have steps at your front or back door
  • Keep simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies in the house
  • Follow up your GP’s invitation to have a flu jab
  • Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast
  • Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription pick-up and delivery service
  • Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your door
  • Eat healthily and keep as active as possible
  • Ask your family, neighbours or friends if they could call or visit you more often
  • Keep a torch handy in case you lose power and keep your radio, mobile phone, laptop or tablet fully charged, so you can use the battery power if there’s no electricity. If there is a power cut you can call 105 for free. You’ll be put through to your local network operator who can give you help and advice
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers, such as your utility companies, by your phone.

For more information about how to prepare for winter, download the free information guide Winter Wrapped Up.


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Older people and their carers are paying the price for cuts in social care

The care and support older people receive increasingly depends on where they live and how much money they have rather than their needs, according to a new report by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust. Elderly lady holding hands

Six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets, rising demand for services and shortages of staff have left the social care system increasingly unable to meet the needs of the older people who depend on it. The report finds that this is placing an unacceptable burden on unpaid carers and is leaving rising numbers of older people who have difficulty with the basic activities of daily living – such as washing, dressing and getting out of bed – without any support at all.

The report highlights evidence that reductions in fees paid by local authorities and other cost pressures such as the National Living Wage are squeezing the incomes of residential and home care providers. It warns that an increasing number are likely to leave the market or go out of business as a result, potentially leaving older people without the care they depend on.

The squeeze on the budgets of care providers is also prompting some providers in affluent areas to step back from providing care for people funded by local authorities, leaving those who depend on council funding reliant on an increasingly threadbare safety net. At the same time, more people are having to pay for their own care as a result of cuts to local authority services.

The report highlights a growing funding gap within the existing, inadequate system which will reach at least £2.8 billion by 2019/20 as public spending on adult social care shrinks to less than 1 per cent of GDP. If the government is unwilling to properly fund and expand the current system, the report says it must be honest with the public about what they can expect from local authority services so they can plan ahead and make their own arrangements. It calls for a fresh debate about how to pay for social care in the future.

The report launch coincides with the publication of new research commissioned by the Richmond Group of Charities and supported by the British Red Cross  and the Royal Voluntary Service. Real Lives documents the experiences of a number of older people with the social care system and the myriad of challenges they face in getting the support they need. It highlights the human reality of a system struggling to cope.

Richard Humphries, Assistant Director of Policy at The King’s Fund said: ‘‘The failure of successive governments to reform social care has resulted in a failing system that leaves older people, their families and carers to pick up the pieces. Putting this right will be a key test of the Prime Minister’s promise of a more equal country that works for everyone – there is no more burning injustice in Britain today than older people being denied the care they need to live with independence and dignity.”

Ruth Thorlby, Deputy Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust said: “No one can predict whether they will have care needs later in life. But if they do find they need help with the basics – eating, washing, going to the toilet – most will discover that unlike a health problem where care is free, they somehow have to manage themselves.

“Our research found that local authorities have done their best to make savings while protecting funding for the poorest, but care providers are struggling on the low fees councils can afford. Shortages of home care staff and affordable care home places mean older people are often stuck in hospital, putting both their lives and vital NHS processes on hold.

“The number of older people needing care is increasing and yet we are continuing to put less money in. Unmet need is rising, providers are threatening to pull out of contracts, the wellbeing of carers is deteriorating, access to care is getting worse. A Government that wants to create ‘a country which works for everyone’ should not tolerate the oldest and most vulnerable falling into a social care system riddled with holes.”

Ann Tomline lives in Oxfordshire and cares for her husband, who has memory loss and severe anxiety. She said: “The system is too complex; it’s not very user friendly and lots of money is wasted. There are so many people who don’t know how to get support. We need a simpler and more flexible system so that more people get the help that they need.”


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New guide offers carers relationship support

Carers Trust has launched a new online relationship guide for unpaid carers. olderheartcouple

The new relationship guide promotes early action in relationship support with focus on prevention rather than crisis intervention. It also provides unpaid carers with advice to help them cope with the strain that caring can put on relationships.

The guide has been developed in partnership with OnePlusOne, a relationship research charity.

Sections and self-help articles

The guide is split into two sections:

·         ‘I am a carer for my partner’ and

·         ‘I look after a family member, friend or neighbour’.

In each of these sections there are a number of self-help articles, including: the challenges of being lover and carer, caring for a parent and how the stress of caring can impact relationships.

The guide contains real-life examples to help unpaid carers cope and is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust said: “Many unpaid carers find that looking after someone else causes problems with partners, family and friends.

They may keep worries to themselves and feel they are betraying the person they care for if they admit their caring role is affecting their relationships.

“This is particularly hard if they are caring for their partner. Our partnership with OnePlusOne will help us support those unpaid carers who are finding it difficult.”

Empowering carers

Penny Mansfield, Director at OnePlusOne added: “Whether you are caring for your partner, your parent or your child, meeting their everyday physical and emotional needs will affect your own physical and mental wellbeing – and the quality of the relationship between the two of you.

“By working alongside organisations like Carers Trust, who know the communities they serve so well – together we can empower carers to manage the impact of caring on their relationships with others.”