Shared commitment to help unpaid carers feel valued and live their lives to the full
People who care for friends and family members in Oxfordshire have been recognised for their hard work and dedication in a new strategy designed to help them feel valued and to support them to live their lives to the full.
The all age unpaid carers strategy for Oxfordshire has been produced hand in hand with more than 1,600 carers, sharing their experiences as the real experts, enabling Oxfordshire County Council to consult on and publish the final framework.
Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Unpaid carers matter and their needs deserve to be met. We’ve heard that although caring can be rewarding, many are tired, saying they cannot easily find information and that they often feel under valued.
“This strategy is designed to address these concerns, helping to support unpaid carers of all ages to continue to do their vital work while enabling them to live their lives to the fullest.”
The framework outlines carers’ rights as well as areas where there is already valuable existing support, including that offered by Carers Oxfordshire.
It goes on to identify three agreed priorities:
- to identify carers and effectively support them, improving their health and wellbeing and providing opportunities for a break from their caring role;
- to safeguard adult and young carers at risk who need more support to look after themselves, particularly during times of change and transition;
- to encourage and enable carers to have an active life outside their caring role, including fulfilling their education, employment, and training potential.
To ensure these priorities are met, partners in health, education and social care, city and district councils and voluntary organisations have agreed to work together around eight key commitments, including:
- continuing to work with carers to keep the strategy up to date;
- improved identification and support of unpaid carers by aligning workplans across health, education and social care organisations;
- ensuring carers can access breaks from their caring role to support their own wellbeing;
- that carers are valued and treated as the experts in their lives and what they need to support their health and wellbeing.
Partners, including Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (BOB ICB), Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT), will now work together to align action plans and set targets to improve outcomes for carers as well as taking steps to ensure their services are more joined up.
Daniel Leveson, Place Director for Oxfordshire at BOB ICB, said: "I welcome our unpaid carers’ strategy. It signals our renewed commitment to carers. It recognises not only their contributions to people’s emotional health and wellbeing but also the valuable roles they play in our health and care system and society as a whole.”
Paula Gardner, Interim Chief Nursing Officer at OUH, said: "This strategy is a welcome support to unpaid carers – they play such a vital role in our homes, communities, and wider society. Finding out what would help them and how measures can be put in place to support them in their role is an important part of taking the next steps.”
Marie Crofts, Chief Nurse at OHFT, said: “Unpaid carers are often parents, family members and friends supporting and caring for the people they love. It is vital that we support them, as they support others, and I welcome this strategy which has been co-produced with carers so they can continue with their lives and futures.”
Cllr Bearder continued: “This strategy is a live document. Carers along with Healthwatch Oxfordshire, the independent health and social care watchdog, will help us monitor and comment on the progress we are all making on our action plans, allowing us to make changes where necessary and ensuring we stick to our commitments.
“This is very much just the beginning and I look forward to seeing the difference it will make for our army of unpaid carers.”
More information about the all age unpaid carers strategy for Oxfordshire 2023-2026 can be found at oxfordshire.gov.uk/UnpaidCarersStrategy
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