Rousing speech to supporters last night:
From the blog of Claire Wright. P!EASE READ EVERY SINGLE WORD OF THIS LONG BUT VERY IMPORTANT POST:
“A recommendation urging no further community hospital bed closures in Devon has been voted down by Conservative councillors on Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee.
The recommendation, which was debated on Thursday (22 November) was part of a set of measures set out in a scrutiny spotlight review aimed at supporting the care at home service (or rapid response) to be more effective.
Highlighted in particular as a challenging area were services for end of life care, which have been put under considerable pressure, especially since the loss of community hospital beds.
I chaired the spotlight review, which took place this summer and published its findings last week in a report that can be found here
Also struck out by conservative councillors was a proposal to review all intermediate care provision (bed based care for people are not yet well enough to return home after hospital) with a view to reopening some community hospital beds on a flexible basis.
Over 200 Devon community beds have been cut in the past five years and the facility known as rapid response, which provides care at home, was supposed to have been beefed up to cope with the extra demand.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to have worked due to a lack of staff, particularly in the Exeter and East Devon area.
The local NHS and Devon County Council have (and are still) advertising extensively but still many vacancies remain.
Some GPs, particularly those in East Devon, have outlined problems with availability of paid carers (see appendix to the main report), and stated that they have lost confidence in the system and are instead admitting patients to hospital, because it takes so long to arrange care, or because care is simply unavailable.
Rapid response was established to avoid hospital admissions where possible and instead care for people in their own homes.
Care of dying patients, very sadly, appears to be the worst hit, with a director from Hospiscare confirming that care from rapid response is too often not available.
Ann Rhys, assistant director of care with Hospiscare, told councillors that in a three month period over the summer, 40 end of life patients were unable to access rapid response.
In one month during the summer one East Devon Hospiscare nurse alone reported eight instances where no care was available.
Hospiscare has seen a “large increase” of patients dying in their in-patient unit in the past 12 months, as a result.
The community hospital beds recommendation proposed to be deleted by Exmouth councillor, Richard Scott was seconded by Cllr Paul Crabbe, who described the proposal for no further bed cuts as “nonsense.”
Cllr Scott claimed there was no evidence for the proposal and replaced it with what I can only describe as a rather meaningless collection of words, which I had to ask for clarification on twice.
Voting in favour of deleting the community hospital bed recommendation was one Labour councillor and all the Conservative councillors on the committee, except chair, Cllr Sara Randall Johnson who abstained. A LibDem councillor and I voted against.
The rest of the recommendations, which can be found in full here at the beginning of the report were supported with one or two with minor tweaks – including writing to the chief executive of the NHS and the Health Secretary about a review of wages for paid carers. https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=22439
Also, remaining was a recommendation urging the local NHS to review its funding for Hospiscare and other local hospices.
Hospiscare receives £1m from the NHS and must fundraise for the remaining £7m and this is becoming harder as pressures on the service increase.
Before the vote I reminded the committee of the words of the county solicitor who addressed the committee earlier this year on our role on the committee as community representatives.
I said we were on the committee as representatives of local people not mouthpieces of council officers and NHS managers.
The webcast is a little out of kilter and some of it seems to be missing, but if you’d like to watch the debate the link is here starting at item 12 – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/369535
The spotlight review report is a summary of discussions and it is not the convention to publish witness statements. However, Local Medical Committee Secretary, Dr Paul Hynam, Sidmouth GP, Dr Mike Slot, Hospiscare director of care, Ann Rhys and Exeter based Patient and Public Involvement lead, Richard Westlake have kindly given consent for me to publish their full witness statements, which are below:
Witness Session: Dr Slot, GP at the Sid Valley Practice
Dr Slot followed his original representation to committee and outlined his concerns, namely that the rapid response service was a well thought out service, with helpful and creative staff.
However there have been a number of occasions when the service was unavailable. This had meant that patients had had to be admitted to hospital. Dr Slot had experienced two occasions last year when there had been no capacity and patients had to be admitted but, on the most recent three occasions that he had contacted the single point of access, they had been able to help and admission had been avoided.
Dr Slot is a member of Devon Local Medical Committee and had gathered some feedback from other GP members and from his own practice. The feedback referred mostly to capacity issues.
Views of other GPs
Dr Slot had contacted GPs across Devon to understand their experiences. Overall there was a mixed response with colleagues.
– Dr xxx said RR had been working well
– Dr xxx now had to ‘force himself’ to ring the contact number. Following a number of occasions when the service had been unavailable.
– Dr xxx had also had issues in North where the service was unavailable.
– A Hospiscare nurse in East Devon had experienced eight instances in the last month where there was no care available.
– One of the GPs in East Devon had had three recent experiences when there had been no capacity and patients needed admission.
Dr Slot has undertaken to get the agreement of colleagues to share more fully their responses with the Spotlight Review.
Dr Slot was clear in highlighting that in his opinion the issue was one of capacity, not skills or training with staff. The single point of access will often say ‘there is not capacity today and to call tomorrow’. The impact on the patient may be that they are unsafe to stay at home and have to be admitted to hospital.
This includes patients who are at the end of their lives, who may have to die in hospital when they would have preferred to have died at home.
The impact on the GP for the service being unavailable is usually one of time, where alternative lengthy arrangements need to be made or repeated phone calls to the single point of access to try to put something in place. Whilst GPs may only ring the service an average of twice a month, there is significant reputational damage if the service is repeatedly unavailable.
Looking at the figures for referrals and in particular when the service was unavailable, GPs had expressed concerns about whether all of the calls were being logged. Within the figures the number of calls logged does not differentiate between different patients, and a patient could be referred more than once if there was no capacity. There is concern that these calls are not being logged anywhere in the system. The outcome of declines is not recorded and could be an admission, or a decision to stay at home.
Within the NHS there is the generally accepted capacity of hospitals ideally having bed occupancy of 85%, allowing for flex in the system. In community services the research has not been carried out to understand what the ideal service take up is, however suspect that it is similar. It feels like the service is often working at 100% capacity.
Timing of Referrals
Referrals frequently come in later in the day (when relatives worry towards end of day and call GPs) but most staff are then going home. Early referral would be more helpful, but is not always possible.
Assistant Director of Care, Hospiscare
Hospiscare covers the area of Exeter, East and Mid Devon, including Tiverton, Crediton, Okehampton, North Dartmoor, Dawlish, Exeter and the Coast to Seaton, Axminster and Honiton. Working alongside NHS colleagues, together with inpatient and community teams, they work in support to co-ordinate packages of care to prevent unnecessary admissions. RR support impacts on many patients and families across the whole area.
Issues with RR
Exeter works well and is responsive, but the majority of RRS teams struggle to cope. Hospiscare log as many instances as they can where patients need access via RR and, in the last 3-4 months, around 40 people have been unable to access RR.
There have been instances in the RR team covering East and Mid Devon (Seaton/ Ottery/ Crediton), when there is no capacity, for the RR team to say to “put on the reject list”. For RR teams to use this phrase is very poor practice. Also, when there is no capacity, the patient’s name is not taken and, in all likelihood, is probably not logged.
When there is no capacity, this is very time consuming as a further call to RR needs to be made, thereby creating a huge impact on community teams. Clinical nurse specialists could make phone contact 3-4 times per day
Other instances have occurred where families are waiting for RR to arrive, only to be phoned and told that RR has been delayed and, as a result, sometimes it may be that pressure is exerted to not come at all – and care is then removed – with the potential risk of being admitted to the RD&E
A further situation arose when the RRS was phoned about a Mid Devon patient who was registered with a GP in Crediton, but lived closer to Tiverton, the RRS said that although there was a carer available in Tiverton, they could not access that carer because of the patient being registered in Crediton and not Tiverton.
End of Life patients
A large proportion of patients prefer to remain at home for end of life. If patients cannot be supported, the Hospiscare community team help to try and provide what is needed. I have received almost tearful feedback from Hospiscare nurses frustrated that it is difficult to source the care required, with many patients close to end of life who just wish to stay at home and this is creating a huge strain on the nurses involved.
Hospiscare have seen a large increase of patients dying in their 12-bed Inpatient unit over the last 12 months. Help is required when patients leave their Inpatient unit to go home, and there is a gap in support here.
We see a lot of people retiring into this area this can mean that there is a lack of social support with families being at times geographical spread, or when this is not the situation families taking on the carer role which can result in a post bereavement risk. Trajectories of illness currently seem to be that patients are stable for longer but then are deteriorating very rapidly at the end of life, which can result in crisis needing urgent support which is not available.
Community hospital closures
Up until 2012/13 the RRS worked well, but this changed when the community hospitals closed and has created a huge impact. Patients say they prefer to be at home or in a community hospital but, with the closure of community hospitals, there are not enough care packages to support this. Acute setting deaths are increasing in some areas, while home deaths have decreased. Consequently, the closure of community hospitals could be said to have had a poor outcome for a number of our patients.
Also, since the closure of further community hospitals last autumn, there has been an increase in Hospiscare patients referred to our inpatient unit due to social care breakdown.
The Hospiscare@Home team that operates in Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Seaton evolved on the back of decreases in support options for patients at the end of life after community hospitals began to close.
Our statistics show the Hospiscare@Home teams are able to keep over 90% of their patients at home if that is their preferred place of death and nearly 90% of these patients would otherwise have been admitted to an acute setting. Hospiscare do everything they can to provide help at home if there is a Hospiscare@Home team available.
NHS community nurses work alongside Hospiscare@Home teams and,where these teams do not exist, the NHS community nurses and our own Hospiscare Clinical nurse specialists go above and beyond to try and support people to remain at home.
Around £1m of funding is provided by the NHS each year to support the running of Hospiscare, but an additional £7m is needed to be raised from funding events, charities etc. Hospiscare can choose where to invest these monies, but strains are becoming more intense.
Devon has an ageing population with complex needs that need responding to, and this situation will continue to grow. Some people have retired to this area, without family nearby, and are often on their own and require support. Any season of the year can be difficult, but winter tends to be a busy period, and this is when we saw an increased dependency on our inpatient beds this year.
The sadness is that RRS used to be a good service, but cracks are now appearing through the lack of support available. The problem with RR is one of capacity – a lack of staff.
Dr Paul Hynam
GP and Medical Secretary, Devon LMC
Although Dr Slot had made further enquiries requesting feedback from other areas, nothing further had been received apart from that already provided from the East, which mostly highlighted difficulties in capacity, however, he felt the RRS were working flat out and were fully engaged in trying to keep patients out of hospital.
Why isn’t it RR working?
There is no clinical experience in either Out of Hospital teams or Admissions to support some patients. Although there are community matrons, they are not sufficiently qualified and the teams lack clinical experience. Also, the service is structured in such a way that it is weighted towards non-qualified people, but it is qualified nurses that are needed, across all areas of Devon.
South Devon and Torbay CCG have intermediate care in place where there are qualified GPs on the team looking after patients. This model is proving much more successful and a move towards this model of care in other areas would be welcome.
Most of the hospital Community Urgent Care teams (which are similar to RRS) are too busy engaged in facilitating the discharge of patients, rather than going into homes to support, but no attempt is made to plug this gap. The impact of this means there is less care being provided at home and more patients having to be admitted.
From the point of discharge, some patients who might have gone into a community hospital are now going home, but the lack of available staff to support those patients, mean that re-admission numbers are high.
GPs try to avoid admission because the patient is much better looked after at home thereby avoiding the risk of infection.
When patients are discharged, it feels like there is no support, as the right support team is not in place. Patients are not discharged too early, but it is the team that cannot support them, e.g. out of hours care for washing, dressing and night sitting.
It is hard to find care for this. I can ring RRS on a Thursday or Friday and be told there is no care available until the following week. I then have to re-admit – this change has happened in the last couple of years.
Over the last few years, it has become much more likely that the RRS is unable to help. GPs are often being contacted to manage problems for patients who should really be in hospital. There is an early response team that should be helping them here, but this does not happen, and is a concern for many GPs.
I am starting to give up on using RRS as it is so time consuming. For instance, I can spend a long time on the phone to RRS and then wait for a call back, sometimes hours later, only to be told there is no care available. Using the hospital admission process is much quicker.
GP practices however are working much more closely, with many GP surgeries merging and some sharing the same ICT infrastructure.
The lack of capacity within the RRS means the teams do not have enough time. Additional workforce is needed across all sectors and there is currently a big international recruitment drive taking place in Devon. Medical students don’t want to come into the profession, as they see it as a ‘bad deal’, i.e. low pay and stressful conditions. Staff who are unsupported become stressed and leave.
When training was slashed in 2010, it was reported that there would be a knock-on effect in 7 or 8 years’ time – and this is now happening.
Yellow Card scheme
Dr Hynam said he used the yellow card system and that ensuring the patient can safely discharge to their home is the absolute minimum.
Mr Richard Westlake
Chair of Exeter Patient and Public Involvement Group
Meetings of the Exeter PPG are held every quarter where two representatives from each surgery in Exeter attend to discuss issues affecting patients in Exeter and Cranbrook.
Exeter PPG has had contact with some GPs who say they use other services now, instead of RR, and liaise with the RD&E.
The Ambulance Service frequently are called to admit a patient who has fallen at home. If care packages fail – it falls back to the RD&E.
Exeter PPG had asked for feedback from family members and others (around 25/30 people in the Exeter area).
About 80% said patients were being discharged too early and then having to be re-admitted or placed in residential accommodation as there was no care package in place, or parts of the care package were missing. Family members or neighbours would often have to step in to dress etc. However, they said once a care package was in place, it was very good.
On occasions, patients are discharged as fit, but it is their home that is unfit for them to be discharged to, e.g. stairs that can’t be climbed properly where the bed or toilet is upstairs. It seems that assessments are being carried out at the hospital, instead of at home, where stairs and steps can vary hugely.
Some patients are discharged to residential homes and then to home, but this was on few occasions.
There is a lack of recognition of couples and their reliance on each other. Those couples keep themselves well, but if one falls ill, there is often difficulty, as there is little support for the other person who is not in the care system. The whole couple unit should be looked at and not just the individual.
Urgent recruitment of staff is needed.”
Ottery Town Council has very oddly-timed meeting (2.30 pm, 29 November)on future of its hospital … under very unusual circumstances …
Ottery Town Council is behaving VERY strangely ……….
“An Extraordinary Town Council meeting to ‘re-examine’ a decision to set up a working group to retain Ottery Hospital, will take place next Thursday (29 November) at the unusual time of 2.30pm.
Four councillors – Dobson, Holmes, Gori and Edwards have signed the paperwork required to trigger the meeting, at which councillors will decide to ‘support or rescind’ the decision made earlier this month to set up the working group.
At the Ottery Town Council meeing on Tuesday, a proposal 6 November for a working group to help retain Ottery’s community hospital was approved by three votes to eight abstentions.
Next Thursday’s meeting is convened on the grounds of not having enough information, despite myself, Cllr Geoff Pratt, Roger Giles and Dr Margaret Hall (chair of West Hill Parish Council) explaining at length the proposal.
I’m kind of speechless at the apparent determination of some town councillors to thwart plans to save our hospital.
And I have never known an Ottery Town Council meeting in public to take place in the middle of the day either.
Dr Hall’s letter to Mayor, Paul Bartlett, setting out the background to why there is a need for a working group, was published on this blog earlier this week, here – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/west_hill_parish_council_chairs_letter_to_ottery_mayor_explaining_working_g
Members of the public are able to make representations at the beginning of next Thursday’s meeting.
If you have a view, please do go along and express it.
If you have no view but wish to attend the meeting, please try and be there.
It will be held at the town council offices, just off The Square.
It is only by seeing the strength of feeling in the town to protect the hospital that councillors may relent and allow this vital work to happen.
Unfortunately, I am in London that day, so will be unable to be there.
The agenda will appear here shortly – http://www.otterystmary-tc.gov.uk/Ottery-St-Mary-Town-Council/Default-24395.aspx
Pic: Over 200 people who attended mine and Cllr Giles meeting in October 2014 when Ottery Hospital’s beds were first threatened.”
Owl says: how will Randall-Johnson and her cronies try to malign Claire Wright on this one with the overwhelming evidence Claire and her committee produced to show that cuts have gone much, much too far – to the point where it seems basic human rights are being infringed every day particularly for the dying?
Could Randall-Johnson and her cronies imagine some of the things described below happening to their parents, partners, siblings, friends?
What happened to this country – and this county – that health care has been allowed (nay, encouraged) to sink so low?
And all a political choice, NOT an economic one.
Shame on you Tory Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny for allowing this to happen.
“A scrutiny review into the system that’s designed to replace community hospital beds is recommending a raft of measures that will be debated at Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee, on Thursday this week.
I chaired the review, which took place during the summer and found that the care at home (or Rapid Response) service was very stretched and care of the dying in particular was highlighted as an area of concern, especially since community hospital beds had been closed.
Over 200 Devon community hospital beds have been closed in the past five years or so.
We interviewed a range of witnesses, including Dr Paul Hynam, GP and Secretary of the Local Medical Committee, GP, Dr Mike Slot (whose concerns prompted the review), Ann Rhys, Assistant Director of Care at Hospiscare and Richard Westlake, Chair of Exeter Patient and Public Involvement Group.
Also interviewed were various senior managers from Devon County Council and the local NHS.
I proposed the Spotlight Review after Sidmouth GP, Dr Mike Slot, attended the January Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to outline his concerns about how care at home (or Rapid Response) was working.
Dr Slot said that although he supported it in principle, there simply weren’t enough carers available to look after patients.
On Thursday (22 November) health scrutiny councillors will be asked to endorse 12 recommendations, including:
– No further community hospital bed closures
– Consideration of reopening some community hospital beds on a flexible basis to ease pressure on the system
– A review of all intermediate (temporary bed-based) care provision across the county
– A standardised approach to Rapid Response across the county, including having GPs on the team
– A review of Hospiscare’s role in end of life care, with a view to providing more financial support
Sadly, the biggest pressure on the local healthcare system seems to be care of the dying.
This outcome was predicted by some GPs before the community hospital beds were closed.
Hospiscare’s Assistant Director of Care, Ann Rhys, told councillors that since the community hospital beds had closed Hospiscare had seen a significant increase in pressure on the service and a resultant large increase of patients dying in their 12 bedded inpatient unit in Exeter.
In the last three months (reported over this summer) 40 patients have been unable to access Rapid Response.
Worryingly, staff can make phone contact three to four times a day to the Rapid Response service because there is NOT support available. This is very time consuming and has a significant impact on community teams.
Councillors were very concerned to hear that one East Devon Hospiscare nurse had reported that in just one month during the summer there were eight instances where no care was available.
GP feedback revealed that the service has led to a lack of confidence by some GPs who say they spend a long time trying to find carers to support a patient at home, only to find there is no support available.
The result is then an admission to the local acute hospital instead. Something the service was set up to avoid.
The NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group did not provide hospital readmission rates to the scrutiny review, despite being asked several times to do so.
A survey to GPs prompted responses mostly from East Devon. Some of the comments are below:
– “Sometimes it can take some time to get a call back informing you that they cannot get the care requested, meaning the patient needs to be admitted much later in the day.”
– “Since the closure of community beds and supposed reallocation of funds the service seems rather worse than better.
– “I take the view when with a patient that I won’t be able to access Rapid Response but if I can it’s a bonus.”
– “Sadly SPOA (Rapid Response) sounds great, but in reality, it’s a time-consuming referral with low probability of delivering the service you want.”
– “I have had three recent episodes where I have called SPOA (Rapid Response) in recent months and they have been unable to put in appropriate care. Patients have been sent to the RD&E for admission. It is a frustrating process – often not staffed well enough so details at the point of contact cannot be taken. Most cases seem to involve two to four calls back to speak to the right person. GPs under pressure are tied up for too long by the service. So long in fact it has made me not want to use the service. It would be easier to admit patients than it is to call SPOA and arrange care – or try to arrange the care…. “
– “Our allocated care agency handed back their contract and we have been left with very little support for care… when we need Rapid Response to support patients and prevent admission we cannot link into subsequent long-term care packages. I had one chap with a neurological condition who had Rapid Response for over a year!”
I am really really glad this piece of work was carried out and I am proud to be the spotlight review’s chair.
For years we have been told by senior managers that the system is working well, with just a few minor problems. This report and the conversations we have had with people who work at the coalface clearly shows a different picture. A worrying picture that needs fully examining.
I trust that councillors who sit on Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will fully support the recommendations.
Here’s the link to the report, which will be debated and voted on Thursday (22 November) https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/s22439/RR%20Report%20final.pdf
From the blog of Claire Wright. It seems remarkable that the abstaining councillors were so similar and united in their views.
“For the first time in many years, I left an Ottery Town Council meeting in pure frustration last night, at councillors arguing against the creation of a working group to help secure the future of Ottery St Mary Hospital.
A straightforward and uncontroversial proposal… or at least, so I thought!
A few weeks ago, I met with Cllr Geoff Pratt (EDDC ward member for Ottery Rural and Ottery Town Councillor), Margaret Hall (retired GP and chair of West Hill Parish Council), Elli Pang (Ottery Town Councillor and chair of the local Health and Care Team Forum) and her colleague, Leigh Edwards.
We discussed the risks facing Ottery St Mary Hospital and the risk of it being sold off for development by NHS Property Services – and how we might move things forward in a productive way.
Currently the hospital is less than 40 per cent occupied and a whopping £200,000 a year rent must be paid to the company, which is wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health. The rent is mostly covered by NHS England at the moment, with some paid by the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, which runs the services there.
Cllr Pang said at this meeting and at the town council meeting last night that it was difficult to make progress on this for a number of reasons, namely trying unsuccessfully to engage key stakeholders and also having the clout to deal with NHS Property Services, which is well known for the aggressive way it deals with its tenants rents, often increasing the rent suddenly and significantly, without apparently caring whether or not the tenant can actually pay.
At the end of our meeting we agreed to ask Ottery Town Council to agree to setting up a working group specifically to move things forward, which would have the advantage of being part of a legally constituted body and one where other people from other areas could be invited onto it.
I am not a member of Ottery Town Council, I attend as the Devon County Council and to give my report. I asked to contribute to the debate, however, as the subject of the hospital is close to my heart and I have spent many years working to try and protect it and prevent the loss of beds.
As one councillor after another spoke it was clear, apart from Cllrs Geoff Pratt and Roger Giles, that the others were opposed to the working group being created.
Various spurious reasons were cited for being against the working group, including:
-There was already a working group set up (there was not)
-It would be better for such a group to be independent from the town council (it would have more clout and relevance to be part of the town council)
-It was duplication (no, it was building on the work of the Health and Care Team Forum)
-It might close down the Health and Care Team Forum (it would not)
-Our proposal was unclear (it was perfectly clear)
-We were insulting the Health and Care Team Forum (no one did this)
After trying to reason with the town council, and then hear several of them speak afterwards as though I had said nothing, I felt my frustrations boil over.
I couldn’t bear to hear any more utter nonsense on the subject, so I prepared to leave before the vote took place, as I could see which way it was going.
Before I left I told them that there was absolutely no reason whatsoever that the town council should not support the proposal and if Ottery Hospital was sold off to developers in a few years time, that each and every town councillor who voted against the proposal would need to examine their consciences.
After I left Cllr Giles asked for a recorded vote so that the minutes listed the way each councillor voted. This proposal was voted down.
I was informed later that after about an HOUR of debate, the vote took place. The councillors who objected to the working group all abstained, apparently on the assumption that their abstentions would result in the failure of the proposal. Instead the vote was carried with eight abstentions and three votes in favour. This was met with much debate and disbelief.
Several then councillors asked that it be recorded in the minutes that they abstained because the proposal was unclear.
On the way out I slammed the glass door, which I am told this morning, resulted in the glass fracturing. This is regrettable.
I have agreed to reimburse the council for the replacement glass, which will need to be in instalments.
A councillor (I am not clear who as the message was relayed by the clerk) has demanded I apologise for “storming out of the meeting.”
My reply was: “I will apologise when those town councillors who sought to obstruct the safeguarding of Ottery Hospital by arguing against setting up the working group and abstaining in the vote, apologise to the residents of Ottery.”
I now look forward to the first meeting and getting on with trying to safeguard our hospital.
Voting in favour of the working group were: Roger Giles, Geoff Pratt and Peter Faithfull.
Those abstaining were: Anne Edwards, Elli Pang, Paul Bartlett, Ian Holmes, Josefina Gori, Lyn Harding, Paul Carter and Glyn Dobson.”
From the blog of Claire Wright. The review would NOT be happening without Claire’s dogged persistence (and similar action by EDA Independent Councillor Martin Shaw. Without them these issues would be kicked into the very, very long grass!
“A Devon wide review of how carers are coping will take place, following my successful proposal at last month’s Devon County Council Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting.
I had been carrying out research into this area since January, when I asked for more information on a scrutiny report, which suggested that carers may be struggling.
I had a meeting with officers and asked for a report of a focus group that was carried out last autumn (2017). …
The results (which I was asked not to publish) were worrying. In almost all areas carers who took part indicated that they were worse off, or saw services being poorer.
What came out strongly to me that the three key areas of health, financial support and respite care, were all deemed as being poorer, according to the carers who took part.
I proposed a review at the June scrutiny committee meeting but chair, Sara Randall Johnson suggested a meeting with Devon Carers staff first, at the Westbank League of Friends. Devon Carers is commissioned to provide support for carers in the Devon County Council area.
This was a useful meeting. What emerged for me, among other issues, was that under the Care Act 2014, the bar has been raised by the government for both financial support and for respite care so it is now harder to access. I am quite certain that this is partly the reason that carers are finding things tougher.
I asked for a further agenda item for the September Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting. I invited two carers who had asked for my help – Maureen Phillips and Mary Hyland, who gave powerful and moving presentations of their experiences of caring. Maureen, for her father and Mary for her partner.
Mary said there is no respite care available. And that overnight she became a carer, she was thrown into it, she knew nothing about it and had to give up her job. She has no support and finds it hard to even leave the house. Previously, she was a very outgoing person, even having her own programme on BBC Radio Devon. She said she was there on behalf of all local carers. Everyone is finding things hard.
The committee was silent.
Maureen said she had been the carer to her father for eight years. Life is exhausting, demanding, frustrating and isolating, she said. Maureen said specialist support workers are required. She said both she and her father need emotional support. She asked who she should turn to when things get tough. There is a shortage of care workers. In the last eight years she had one holiday. She had to take her father with her. Maureen said she had to fight for every bit of support. She has turned to the services of a solicitor in desperation.
When I made the proposal for a spotlight review at the September meeting, it was seconded by the chair and agreed by the committee. I hope to have a date for the first meeting soon.
We need your help! If you would like to take part by giving your story to the spotlight review, please get in touch at email@example.com – many thanks
Here’s the webcast: You can see Mary’s and Maureen’s presentation under public participation – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/359701
The agenda item itself is under number 12..”