Place Category: Health & Social Care
Forward Carers Consortium is made up a group of not for profit organisations, led by Midland Mencap. We have come together with the mission of making a real difference to the lives of carers. Our aim is simple – to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of carers, young and old, including parent carers, so that families stay healthier and happier together, for longer.
We know that 1 in 8 people are caring for a loved one or dependent, this means there are over 107,000 carers in Birmingham alone. Numbers are expected to grow, with caring responsibilities affecting many of us at some point, which may mean endless juggling of care, work, family and social life.
We have been commissioned by Birmingham City Council to be a focal point for the tens of thousands of carers in the City. We have come together as Forward Carers to set up and run the Birmingham Carers Hub.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated March 2018
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
Addressing social interests:
Our goal is to improve the wellbeing of carers. Carers are people who provide care or support (physical or emotional) to friends, loved ones or neighbours - they play an important role not just within families but also through their contribution to wider community, economy and society. Approximately 1 in 4 houses in Birmingham is home to a carer. The caring role can be very demanding – 65% of care-givers registered with us carry out their role for over 50 hours per week, with many carers being the sole other occupant in the house. As a result, the caring role can be isolating and challenging and can affect carer wellbeing, health and happiness. By providing support and services to carers, we help improve their wellbeing and help families stay together.
The social benefits and improvements we wish to deliver:
The social change we wish to create is to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of carers, young and old, including parent carers, so that families stay healthier and happier together, for longer.
Our vision is a world where carers are happy and healthy and have the skills and knowledge to carry out their caring role. Carers will be able to fulfil their potential and their ambitions in life and work. The caring role will be recognised for its valuable contribution to society.
When carers are well supported and empowered to carry out their role, the caring role is less likely to break down and require statutory intervention with associated social care costs. Carers are also able to participate fully in society by having a social and economic presence.
Improved wellbeing: By supporting carers from the start of, or any point in, their caring journey, we seek to keep carers well, rather than intervene at a point of crisis. In this way, we reduce the likelihood of care breaking down which can lead to the need for costly statutory intervention and have a lasting emotional impact.
Fulfilling Lives/ Reducing isolation:
Forward Carers is a local delivery partner in the Ageing Better Programme aimed at reducing social isolation and loneliness in older age. Through the national Ecorys evaluation framework we have demonstrated that carers attending our groups and networks have experienced reduced in isolation and loneliness.
Our Carer Health MOTs provide a health check for carers to identify any issues or potential health concerns and provide guidance on ways to improve health outcomes.
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
What services have you provided:
We are a West Midlands based, Birmingham focussed, carer support organisation. We work with our partners and Birmingham City Council to provide a suite of free support and services tailored to carers' needs. In 2017, via our 16 partners we provided thousands of services to over 5,000 carers to help improve their health, happiness and overall wellbeing.
An overview of the individual services we provided in 2017 is given in section 5.
What other specific actions have you taken:
In addition to providing partner-led regular services and activities, in 2017 we sought to engage with more carers across the region, so that every carer who needs us knows where we are. 2,534 carers registered with us in 2017
As part of the national Fulfilling Lives programme, we work with Ageing Better, to help carers to set up, run and evaluate carer networks and activity groups. In the past year, we helped deliver 50 new carer networks for older socially isolated carers, attended by 273 carers. Attendees have shown a marked reduction in isolation.
We worked with local GP surgeries to educate Drs about carer’s needs and to inform them about the services we provide for carers - 71 Carers Corners run in GP surgeries, 466 carers referred to us by GPs.
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
How individuals have benefitted:
Improving carer wellbeing is our key objective. Although the many services we provide via our partners are varied (from training and workshops, to relaxation activities and health checks, information and advice, carer sitting services, and many more), their unifying driver is to improve carer wellbeing. Through engaging with our support and services, carers feel happier, healthier and empowered to carry out their role.
Carers who attend our Ageing Better groups show a marked reduction in social isolation and loneliness.
Details on our measurement systems (how we know our services are effective) are given in section 4 below.
How have other stakeholders benefitted:
Carer wellbeing is why we’re here. But, fortunately, the benefits of happy, healthy carers extend far and wide, to families, communities, workplaces and the social care sector.
Carers who feel supported, informed and have good wellbeing are better able to care for their loved ones. Research by Carers UK shows that when care breaks down, it is often due to carer stress and overwhelm rather than the medical needs of the cared for. For example, when older carers are stressed, the person they care for is at greater risk of falling and developing medical issues. With our help, families stay together for longer.
1 in 8 carers feel socially isolated, according to research by Carers UK. This can be due to poverty caused by the cost of the caring role (up to 2 million carers across the UK have given up work to carry out their caring role). Forward Carers run hundreds of free services run within local communities, giving carers a face and a voice in their local area. In addition, the £600,000 we helped carers access in grants and benefits in 2017 opens up new possibilities for participation in the local community and social environment.
Our support and services help carers stay well and keep families together. If our services were withdrawn, we estimate up to 40% of caring situations could break down, leading to a social care cost of £7.07 p/a. This figure is formed using Adass and Carers UK methodology.
4) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
We know that positive change occurs when carers use our services because we used standardised measures to monitor changes in carer wellbeing and isolation levels before and after engaging with us.
In 2017, 2,232 carers completed carer wellbeing evaluation questionnaires (based upon the domains of wellbeing outlined in the 2014 Care Act), before and after engaging with our services. After engaging with services, 8 out of 10 carers surveyed showed improved wellbeing – carers felt better with our support. On average carer wellbeing increased by 7.5% across the domains important to them. The greatest increases were in ‘feeling supported’ and ‘emotional wellbeing’.
Ecory/ De Jong Social isolation and loneliness scale
As part of our Ageing Better programme, we use the Ecory monitoring system to measure changes in carer isolation and loneliness after attending our support and activity groups for older carers. Isolation and loneliness measured are based up the De Jong scale. Our impact is shown [in our internal reporting].
Identifying and meeting carer needs
An added benefit of improved carer wellbeing is that care is less likely to break down and require statutory support. We provide statutory Carer Assessments which identify carer unmet needs. We meet the needs of 85% of all carers we assess via our range of support and services.
Carers complete evaluations forms after taking part in our training courses and workshops.
Carer feedback and case-studies
Our CERS (Carer Emergency Response) service offers a planned sitting to provide cover for carers in the event they need to attend a medical or other important appointment. We use standardised monitoring forms to ask carers who register for the service what would happen in the event the sitting service was unavailable. We know from carer responses that carers would simply miss many of these important appointments, despite the potential harmful consequences to them, if the service didn’t exist.
We compile a library of carer feedback statements following event and group attendances and via social media.
Forward carer partners compile carer case studies to demonstrate carer service use experiences in their own words.
Positive change will continue to be demonstrated by improved carer wellbeing as shown through increased scores in the carer wellbeing questionnaire following engagement with Birmingham Carers Hub support and services.
In addition, monitoring the efficacy of our services will be given even greater priority in 2018. As we grow as an organisation alongside the growing number of carers who need for our support, we have invested in infrastructure to help us better monitor and evaluate our impact. We are implementing a new CRM system to allow us to monitor more and more detailed KPIs internally and across our partner network.
From February we take over responsibility from Birmingham City Council to carry out statutory carer assessments for Birmingham carers – during this assessment we identify carers’ unmet needs. As part of our new quality review, each carer will receive a follow up phone call 28 days after their assessment to monitor their experience of the assessment process and outcome. This will be recorded and will form part of our KPIs.
In 2018 we will deliver the annual Carers Survey, a postal survey to carers across the Birmingham area. The survey collects information on carers’ experiences and satisfaction with the support they receive.
- KPIs are reported to the Board each quarter
- We produce an annual Impact Review that is publicly available via our website
- We share carer outcomes with our commissioners and partners.
- We provide detailed activity and outcome reports to our funders.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How many people have benefitted from your actions?
The number of people who have directly accessed a service in 2017:
In 2017 we supported 5,156 carers, this includes 1,172 carers who received 1:1 support for complex needs.
Our wellbeing services provide carers with the opportunity to take part in free yoga, tai chi and meditation services – over 350 relaxation sessions run.
Our support groups bring people together, giving carers respite from their caring role and providing peer support – 48 support groups brought 384 carers together.
Our training courses and workshops build upon carers’ strengths and give them the skills and confidence to carry out their caring role – 165 spaces provided for carer trainng/ 16 carer workshops for 121 ‘hidden’ carers.
Our website provides comprehensive advice, from carer know-how to specific support available across the West Midlands – over 2,000 unique visitors each month.
We empower carers to set up their own groups - £43,891 distributed to carers to set up new groups, via the Ageing Better in Birmingham fund.
Our information and advice line offers expert knowledge and advice from providing carer assessment to advice of grants and benefits and availability of local support – thousands of calls to our helpline each year.
Our specialist teams meet carers one-to-one to identify their needs and provide personalised support – 3,429 sessions with 1,172 carers.
We assist cares to access the grants and benefits they are entitled to - £651,789 claimed by carers with our help.
Our CERS (Carers Emergency Response Service) provides emergency care in the event of a crisis that prevents a carer from being able to carry out their role – 24 emergency call-outs made
We provide carers with health checks (carer MOTs) – 121 health checks carried out
Nearly 8 out of 10 carers who undertook multiple wellbeing assessments (before and after accessing our services) showed improved wellbeing.
When carers are happy and healthy, they are better able to fulfil their caring role, meaning the person receiving care benefits too. With each of our carers providing care for at least one person, it is likely that the number of cared-for people who indirectly benefit from our work runs into the many thousands. When carers are empowered to carry out their role, have access to the economic support (grants/ benefits) available to them and feel able to balance their work, social and family life, they are better able to make a full and active contribution to their local economy and community.
6) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
Case-study 1: John and Susan* received support from Birmingham Carers Hub partner CERS
The Carers Emergency Response Service (CERS) steps in to provide up to 48 hours’ emergency in-house care in the event that a carer suffers a crisis leaving them unable to provide their usual care.
Following a fall whilst out shopping, John, an elderly carer who supports his wife Susan, had to be temporarily hospitalised. When CERS arrived at the property to cover the gap in care, it soon became evident that both the Susan and John were struggling to maintain their accommodation. Their house was unkempt, with a large number of possessions collected throughout the downstairs posing risks both to the residents as well as to the CERS staff. Despite her health condition and age, the only space available for Susan to sit throughout the day was a stall in the kitchen, this was not suitable. This despite the fact that there was an allocated Social Worker involved as well as daily support provision from an outside care agency.
CERS staff not only provided the appropriate care required for Susan but also tackled the living arrangements, going above and beyond their role to make a tangible and significant difference to John and Susan’s day-to-day living experience. A lovely surprise awaited John on his return from hospital - over the course of the 48-hour emergency provision, the CERS team sorted and rearranged the whole the downstairs area, creating a clean, safe and pleasant environment.
Susan and John could once again enjoy the pleasure of sitting together in their lounge in the evenings. When Susan saw the lounge her face lit up in the knowledge she would no longer be isolated in the kitchen. Both were thrilled. John stated he could not believe what CERS had done, describing how he had been asking for help for months and in just two days, CERS had transformed their living conditions.
Case-study 2: Seema Kapoor* received support from Birmingham Carers Hub partner Health Exchange
Health Exchange offers a service that focuses on the health and lifestyle of carers, this includes a carer health MOT to assess health biometrics such as weight, BMI and blood pressure.
Ms. Kapoor is a 60-year-old carer for her 19-year-old son with Asperger’s Syndrome, OCD and a Sleep Disorder. She has Arthritis that became significantly worse over the past 12 months and was having a negative impact on her life and potentially, caring role. She explains why she contacted Birmingham Carers Hub partner Health Exchange, ‘I wanted to lose weight to elevate stress on my joints, but I didn’t think my financial situation would allow me to do this as I never have any money left at the end of the month. I wanted to know if there was any support available for me’.
At Health Exchange, she received a carer’s assessment which identified several needs. This included a referral to Occupational Health for adaptations to her home and a referral to Birmingham Carers Hub for advice about her financial situation, information about where she could go swimming, and about the many free carer support groups available to her. The support offered by Health Exchange was able to make a clear difference to her health and wellbeing in ways that she had been unaware of and unable to access before. Ms Kapoor described the support she received as ‘extremely helpful and informative’ and recommended us to other carers.
Case-study 3: Hilary, carer for husband Steve*
Hilary is one of many carers who access a range of our services. The suite of services we offer via our partners has been designed to tackle the variety of ways that the caring role can impact on an individual’s life and their ability to carry out their caring role.
Hilary attends free carer yoga sessions via our partner Barefoot, she is registered with the Carers Emergency Response Service and uses our online resources. She intends to make use of a range of other services she feels will also support her in her role.
In person, Hilary described Birmingham Carers Hub as ‘wonderful’ and ‘invaluable’ and demanded that we ‘don’t ever stop doing’ what we do! The yoga sessions she attends are a time of respite from her role and she explains that after a session she feels replenished and so much better able to carry out her caring role.
She described that in the past she would feel guilty for taking time out for herself but that she’s come to understand the importance of maintaining her own wellbeing through activities like yoga and relaxation sessions, in order to be able to better support her husband and not become overwhelmed.
Hilary is registered to the CERS service, meaning that should she experience a crisis situation that prevented her from carrying out her caring role for a short time, CERS would step in to fill the gap. She described the relief she feels knowing that CERS are on hand to help her husband should an emergency befall her - in fact, she carries their phone number everywhere she goes.
Hilary described the content of the Forward Carers website in great detail, explaining that she has spent a lot of time on there, taking in the help and advice offered and familiarising herself with the support available. She was enthusiastic about a new free hair cut service offered twice weekly by our partners at the Chinese Community Centre. As a carer, it can be hard to find the time to prioritise your own needs, and the financial costs of caring can mean there’s less available to spend on non-priorities. Sometimes the seemingly small things can make a world of difference.
*All names have been changed to maintain anonymity.
7) What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?
Additional service outputs:
Creating an Innovation Fund
Through savings made from business efficiencies, we have created an Innovation Fund of up to £40,000 which we have invested in a new priority, Working Carers. This new programme identifies and supports carers at work and those wishing to enter/ return to work after their caring role. We also provide guidance for employers to become carer-friendly organisations that better support carers in their workforce. We aim for this programme to become self-sustaining through employer purchase.
Signatory of the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility:
As detailed previously, as part of the above charter, in addition to our core activities, we are committed to the charter principles.
Carer wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do. Outside of our funded activities, we seek to unite, inform and give a voice to carers. We achieve this through:
We post carer information and inspiring information to over 500 followers on Facebook and twitter – signposting carers to support and services relevant to them.
Our monthly enews is packed with useful information on local events, training and support, and is sent to over 1500 carers.
Our events calendar is a great resource for carers to locate relevant events they may be interested in, from support groups, coffee mornings, wellbeing activities, training sessions and more. We collate and detail events run by our partners as well as external organisations across Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Events for carers:
Our three major carer events across the year bring together carers with local support and service providers, offer free relaxation and wellbeing activities and provide respite from the daily caring role.
We are a volunteering friendly organisation and have a detailed volunteer policy
Forward Carers Ethos:
Our service delivery ethos is based upon carer benefit and social care cost reduction, as opposed to financial outcomes. We are target-led in that we seek to maximise carer wellbeing, rather than shareholder profit. Our KPIs are designed to measure our success in reaching, engaging with and helping carers and their loved ones, which in turn has a positive impact on reducing the social care burden.
8) What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?
Staff social benefits:
As we have grown as an organisation, we have worked closely with Roots HR CIC to ensure that we have a robust HR strategy that supports our employees to learn and grow. Our staff survey documents staff satisfaction levels and provides a platform for us to improve as necessary.
Carers who undertake a Carer’s Assessment and demonstrate unmet needs are provided with a wellbeing budget of £100, £150 or £250 to meet these needs.
Please see above for details of our commitment to the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility which includes a commitment to local procurement and employment.
We are keen to work with volunteers, particularly carers who wish to gain voluntary experience in order to support future job applications. We have developed a detailed volunteering pack to ensure a positive and useful volunteer experience.
We recognise the value of carers and the expertise they offer and seek to ensure that the voice of carers is represented in everything we do / produce. We believe in co-design projects where carer feedback helps shape our plans and materials. As per our ‘Expert Carers’ policy, carers are appropriately paid for their time and expertise.
9) What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?
Please see previous information on the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility.
Recycling and environmental benefits:
We are a ‘paper-lite’ office. We limit printing to necessity and make use of all office-wide recycling facilities.
Staff are encouraged to consider green options for their daily commute and asked to consider using public transport or person-power for their work journey once a week.
We have a strong voice in the tenants’ committee in our workplace, to ensure the environment is fit for purpose – for example, lobbying for usable shower facilities for staff who wish to run/ cycle to work, and to consider energy use.
Employee benefits include flexible working, training budget and volunteering opportunities within our partner organisations