North Yorkshire County Council will publish a new strategy this summer in partnership with the NHS which focuses on the health and wellbeing of carers. It will be an all-ages strategy, aimed at supporting carers to both continue caring and to have a life of their own.

The strategy has been produced by the Health and Wellbeing Board for North Yorkshire, working on behalf of local residents. Three in five people will be a carer at some point and almost everyone will know a family member, friend or colleague who is currently a carer.

Richard Webb, Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services at the County Council said “This strategy brings together the insight and expertise of health and social care professionals with the input and experience of North Yorkshire carers. By recognising the importance of the latter we have been able to develop a document that focuses on priorities for improvement that will make a real and valuable difference to the lives of carers in the county.”

Following a period of engagement with carers and partners over the past 12 months, reviewing what’s working and what needs to change, a number of themes for the draft strategy have been proposed. These are:

  • improving identification of carers;
  • improving information and advice;
  • enabling carers to take a break;
  • improving carers health and wellbeing;
  • enhancing financial wellbeing; and
  • involving carers as experts.

Catherine Dunderdale is a full-time carer for her adult son Robert, who has severe and complex disabilities. Her younger son, Matthew, is 11 and was recently diagnosed with autism. On why the carers strategy is important for people like her, Catherine said: “I often feel isolated as a carer. It can get incredibly stressful. If you’re having a bad day you can’t just get up and go out for a walk to clear your head. A lot of the time you’re stuck in the house. The themes in the strategy are all really important, but for me personally it would make a huge difference just to get a couple of hours to myself. I’d love to sit and read a book for an hour. I used to write poems but just don’t get the chance now looking after everyone else.”

Amanda Bloor, Health and Wellbeing Board Vice-Chairman, said: “We know from previous consultation and engagement that the vast majority of carers are happy to support the person they care for. However, people also consistently tell us that their caring role can often affect their own health and wellbeing. This joint strategy led by the County Council and the NHS sets out the ways in which we plan to protect the health and wellbeing needs of carers to support them in their caring role.”

To make sure the themes, priorities for improvement and key commitments included in the draft strategy are right for carers and the people they care for, a six week period of formal consultation will run until the 23 June. People can find out more about the carers strategy consultation online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/carersstrategy.

The County Council is also asking people to give their views on “Bring me sunshine’’, the draft dementia strategy for North Yorkshire. “Bring me sunshine” is based on the experiences of people living with dementia, their carers and health and social care experts. Details of the consultation, which runs from 15 May to 23 June, can be found online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/article/32528/Dementia-strategy-engagement

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