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Unpaid carers in Northamptonshire are asked to share their experiences following a year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by on February 11, 2021

Changes to health, care and support services during the pandemic will have affected those who provide informal (unpaid) care to family and friends. Healthwatch Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Carers and Carers’ Voice Northamptonshire are working together to find out more about the experiences of unpaid carers at this time.

When Healthwatch Northamptonshire asked people to tell them about their experiences of health and care services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic earlier in 2020 they became aware of some of the extra difficulties and challenges faced by those who provide unpaid or informal care for their loved ones. To find out more about these challenges, as well as what is working well, they have launched a new survey asking about the experiences of those who have been providing unpaid care since March 2020.

There are two versions of the surveys, one for those age 18 and over (anyone younger than 18 can answer this longer survey if they wish) and one for young people age 11 to 17. These surveys are intended for unpaid carers (sometimes referred to as ‘informal’ or ‘family’ carers). This means someone who provides unpaid care or support for a relative, friend or neighbour. This person can be an adult or child and the care is as a result of additional needs due to a disability, mental illness or a long term health condition. This excludes people providing care as part of paid work – for example working in a care home, hospital or care agency but does include people providing care for a loved one who is in receipt of Carers Allowance or a Direct Payment.

The findings of the survey will be shared with the local organisations that plan and provide health and care services in the county to inform their work and help them to continue to deliver good quality care and support carers at this time.

The survey is available online at https://bit.ly/carerscovid (where it can be read in other languages by those using a computer) or paper copies can be sent to groups or individuals in the post. Anyone needing help to complete it or who would like to complete it over the phone can call 0300 002 0010, or ask for a call back. We are particularly keen to hear from groups who can help share this survey with their members. The survey will be open until the end of February.

There is also the opportunity for carers to give more feedback through small online focus groups (sign up at http://bit.ly/carersfocusgroups or contact Healthwatch Northamptonshire, details below).

In February, Healthwatch Northamptonshire will be working with Northamptonshire Carers and other partners to also hold a virtual engagement event for carers to highlight their concerns during the coronavirus pandemic and what services they want in the future. The event will take place as part of Northamptonshire Carers’ Annual General Meeting, mirroring a successful event in 2019 attended by nearly 100 carers which helped shape a local Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

This will take place on Tuesday 23 February 2021, 10am-midday and you can register in advance for this meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMtceqorT0pGd2C6Avv8c7pkYNHd-mwCzK7. (After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting, contact Gwyn Roberts at [email protected] with any enquiries about the event.)

Mark Major, CEO of Northamptonshire Carers, said: “Unpaid (informal) carers are playing a greater role than ever before in supporting people with their care needs. The changing priorities of health and care services during the coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on both them and those they care for. Carers have valuable insight into how well services are working and we encourage them to have their say so that services can be improved for all carers.”

Kate Holt, CEO of Healthwatch Northamptonshire, said: “As part of our role to speak up for the people who use health and social care services and those that care for them, we are asking you to tell us more about your experiences as an unpaid carer during the pandemic. Your feedback can help Northamptonshire’s health and care providers to understand what could be improved as they work hard to provide the best possible care during these difficult times.”

  • For more information, to help share the survey or for help completing the survey call Healthwatch Northamptonshire on 0300 002 0010 or email [email protected]
  • If you need more support as a carer, please contact Northamptonshire Carers on 01933 677907 or email [email protected]
  • If you would like to regularly give your views and get involved in shaping carers service, find out more about Carers’ Voice Northamptonshire at https://www.connectedtogether.co.uk/carersvoice/ or by calling 07856 875132

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