Somerset Council renews support for unpaid carers

Somerset has renewed its commitment to carers with a refreshed strategy, launched at an event in Taunton.  

On Tuesday 19 March, Somerset Council joined forces with NHS Somerset and community organisations to launch the strategy explaining their ongoing commitment to supporting unpaid carers in Somerset. 

The event, which was held at Deane House in Taunton, consisted of presentations from professionals and carers about the ongoing work that health and care services are doing to acknowledge and support unpaid carers in Somerset. 

To create the strategy, the Council worked with Evolving Communities, an independent community interest company who help health and care service users have a voice to shape the services they use. The strategy was developed with unpaid carers and acknowledges the invaluable contribution and challenges they face. It is informed by conversations with unpaid carers, workshop events, sixty-five visits to carers groups, twenty-five case studies and hundreds of survey responses by unpaid carers in Somerset. 

Somerset’s Commitment to Carers aims to enhance the quality of life for carers and those they care for. It will enable, support and empower unpaid carers to easily access information, education, training and health and care services to support them while they carry out their vital caring roles. The strategy, which was launched on 19 March, can be read on Somerset Council’s website here:

Councillor Sarah Wakefield, Lead Executive Member for Adults Services at Somerset Council said,  

“There are approximately 50,000 unpaid carers in Somerset (and possibly more than that) who provide vital support to the people they care for. Many of these people don’t think of themselves as carers, as they see what they do as a normal part of family life, or just being a good friend. Caring for someone, though very rewarding, can also be very isolating and demanding, so as a Local Authority, we have a duty to support them to look after the people they love. 

“Hearing Alison and Carole talk about their experiences as unpaid carers in Somerset really drives home how important it is that we are including learning directly from unpaid carers when we make decisions which will affect them.” 

Shelagh Meldrum, Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Operations, NHS Somerset said, 

“Unpaid carers play a hugely important role in our society. They provide vital care to individuals in our population making a huge difference to their lives while supporting the NHS.” 

“Their contribution to helping to reduce the pressure on health and care services is vital. While we know that many carers feel a great sense of satisfaction and pride from the care and support they provide; the responsibility of caring for a loved one or friend can come at a great personal and financial cost.” 

“NHS Somerset wholeheartedly supports Somerset Council’s renewal of support for unpaid carers via the new carer’s strategy. Our collective ambition is to enhance the quality of life for carers and the individual’s they provide a vital role in caring for.  This will be achieved through enabling improved access to support, information, education and training alongside health and care guidance to support them while they carry out these vital caring roles.” 

Lucie Woodruff, CEO of Evolving Communities, said,  

“Somerset’s new Commitment to Carers represents an important milestone in empowering and supporting unpaid carers to influence positive changes in health and social care services.” 

“It was a privilege to work with so many people who found time, despite their caring responsibilities, to share their stories and ideas with us to help transform support for unpaid carers. We are delighted that the Commitment to Carers has been formally endorsed by the ICB, Council and NHS in Somerset, and we now look forward to them working together with the voluntary and community sector to turn these commitments into positive action to improve support for unpaid carers.” 

Somerset Council is committed to supporting unpaid carers in Somerset.  

The Community Council for Somerset (CCS) are asking carers and professionals to complete their survey regarding improving their digital offer for Carers. Answers will help them to develop and improve the support that they offer to unpaid Carers in Somerset who are able to access online services. Click here to complete the survey.

Resources for carers can be found below: