Just to let carers in Somerset know what we are doing in light of the cuts. As Chairwoman of the East Somerset Branch but with support from the Taunton and South Somerset Branch, we have been very active in lobbying various bodies involved in services for carers in Somerset.
There is an Adult Services Partnership Board who will be designing services in the future. We have sent them a list of ideas which we feel they should consider.
I have got local publicity for a carer whose husband was being reassessed and who might have lost both respite for him and for herself or had their needs downgraded. This was just before I was able to send a written submission to the County Council Cabinet meeting and was able to have a 2 minute slot to address them about our concerns at the threshold for care being raised from Moderate to Substantial. We demonstrated outside before the meeting with placards and got coverage in local press, radio and TV as I had told them about it beforehand.
Next week I shall be doing the same again at the full County Council meeting and demonstrating again making the point that it is a very small demonstration because most current carers are too tired and too busy to spare the time. We are all former carers.
Then we want to make sure that we are represented on the Project Group of the Adult Services Partnership Board who will be deciding on the future shape of services.
What we have won so far is that when a cared for person is assessed for services the carer will automatically be assessed at the same time and could have a higher rating for support than the person they care for. We hope that this will mean identifying carers earlier and before crisis point. We also have a promise from the cabinet councillor responsible for community care that at least the same amount of money spent on carers' support last year will be spent in the next year.
The staff of Somerset County Council do their best for carers but of course it is never enough and we want to make sure that carers are not forgotten in the wide sweep of cuts that are being inflicted.
There is another initiative in the NHS funded by Carers UK to set up a Carers Champion in each surgery. This is a bit patchwork at the moment in respect of effect but we hope we can build on it if we can find funding for it in future. There were two of us former carers on the strategy group planning and implementing the training for this.
Wish us luck in the future. We feel we may have some influence even if we do not have power!!