Dying well at home: the case for integrated working
Practice example 11: The needs of older carers
This project, a joint initiative between Age UK and the Department of Health, began in 2010 and focuses on the needs of older carers, rather than those being cared for. The idea is to empower older carers by focusing on their practical and emotional needs, helping them to be more effective in their support to their relative or friend.
The three-year project began with Age UK Leeds and Age UK South Tyneside. They were joined in April 2011 by Age Concern Kingston upon Thames and Age UK Leicester, Shire and Rutland. In 2012, the newly developed procedures and protocols were extended to Age UK Oxfordshire and Age UK Lancashire.
All the local bodies involved have to identify a project manager to run their pilot and recruit volunteers who can offer relevant services to carers and their relatives and friends. Volunteers can either provide support themselves or signpost the carers to Age UK or external practical services such as shopping, cleaning, gardening, food delivery and benefits advice.
There are examples of partnership with social services (for complex cases), local hospices and voluntary sector organisations.
Volunteers can also arrange or provide emotional support to older carers, such as advocacy services, counselling, befriending or spiritual assistance, to enable them to care for people at the end of their lives, in their own homes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the service has benefited both carers and the relatives being cared for.
Linsey Reynolds, Programme Manager, Age UK.