Adult carers in Peterborough working more than 100 hours a week

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A new report on adult carers in Peterborough has revealed that many are working more than 100 hours a week.

The Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England (SACE) asks questions about quality of life and impact the adult care service has on their general health and wellbeing, with this bi-annual report showing overall satisfaction with the adult carer service provided in the city at 39.8 per cent, compared to 38.7 per cent nationally.

Speaking to members of Peterborough City Council’s Adults and Communities Scrutiny Committee Debbie McQuade, assistant director for adults and safeguarding operations, said: “Part of the Adult Positive Challenge Programme, the feedback we’ve had for Peterborough has been very positive, with people saying that: ‘they feel very lucky to live in the Peterborough carer area’.

“Compared to other’s stories, most of those we surveyed said that the help they receive is excellent, with additional advice at the end of the phone if needed.”

Ms McQuade went on to add that most carers in Peterborough live with the person they care for, with the largest group aged between 75 and 84.

“Peterborough has by proportion more Asian and Asian British carers that any other city nationally,” she added. “But the downside of our survey is that the majority of the people we’ve spoken to say they care for somebody for 100 hours or more in any given week.”

Helen Duncan, principal social worker and head of adult safeguarding, said: “While we are naturally pleased that Peterborough has shown improved or above average results compared to the national average for most of the questions we asked, there are still some area of concern that we feel can be improved upon.

“The positive aspects of the survey included less carers feeling depressed or being short tempered, irritable and having disturbed sleep, and more carers than average who were able and capable of looking after themselves.

“The downside was that many carers in Peterborough felt they had little or no control over their daily life (23.3 per cent), down on the national average (21.5 per cent), and fewer than the national average carers in Peterborough felt that they had sufficient encouragement and support for the work that they do.

“One aspect that is concerning is that less the national average of carers in the city said they had much social contact with people they like.”

One carer in the survey reported: ‘The number of hours a week that I work is only half the story. The other half is the lack of freedom so that I can never be spontaneous, I can never decide to do something or continue to do something without considering when I need to be back or when I need to do the next caring job.”

Committee chairman Cllr Nigel Simons wanted to know how the data from the report would be used to improve the service that the council provides.

Ms Duncan said: “The next steps are for us to look at where we can improve the service, and we already have taken much of what we have discovered into consideration.

“We are expanding the support service available by promoting the ‘Caring Together’ magazine where enormous amounts of information has been gathered about groups, events as well as other support organisations.

“In addition, a new Carers Operational Group has been established overseeing practice and everything relating to carers.

“There is also a comprehensive work study underway to recommission carer support services with a new contract and that is expected to come into operation in August 2020.

“We are also focusing our support on the carers needs in a weekly ‘huddle’, introduced across the service where the consideration of different ideas can be shared and learned from the experiences of others, encouraging feedback from all quarters on what has happened, what has worked well, and how to transfer that success across the entire carer service provided.”

Peterborough City Council’s Adults Positive Challenge Programme has an overall target of savings of £3.172 million across 2019/20 and 2020/21. Support for carers has no specific savings target, but is a key enabler of those savings being made.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service