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New provider of carer support services in Essex

We have been asked by Essex County Council to share the following with our families regarding carer support services in Essex:

Essex Carers Service: What you need to know 

Who is the Essex Carers Service for? A carer is someone who looks after a relative or friend who due to ill health, physical or mental illness, disability, frailty, or addiction cannot manage without this support. The Essex Carers Service provides information, advice and support to adults who have caring responsibilities.

What is changing and why? Essex County Council has previously purchased support services for unpaid carers from a range of organisations, there is a legal requirement for Essex County Council to review the arrangement and subject them to competition. As a result of this process a new contract has been awarded to Carers FIRST for adult carers services.

What will be the benefits of the new contract? The new contract for Carers Services provides Essex County Council with an opportunity to build upon the range and quality of services that are currently provided to unpaid carers. There will be a stronger focus on providing early help and support to carers which promotes their wellbeing and prepares them for the caring role as it develops. The new contract will also make access to services easier for carers while offering more joined up support.

Is this about saving money? No. The change in provider will not make any savings for the council. The council continues to invest in Carers Services in recognition of the importance of supporting unpaid carers in Essex. In addition to providing the opportunity to make improvements to the Carers Service the new contract will support the council in meeting its Care Act 2014 and Children and Families Act 2014 duties in relation to identifying and supporting unpaid carers.

Who is the new provider? The new provider will be Carer’s FIRST who are a charity status company that have been supporting carers for the last 27 years in Kent and Medway and more recently in Lincolnshire and the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Carers FIRST specialise in providing a range of emotional and practical support, advice, information and guidance to carers who live in both urban and rural communities which aims to make sure that carers have access to the quality support and services they need to live their own lives.

When will the new provider start? The new contract with Carers FIRST begins on 1 April 2018. Grants with current Carer Service providers will end on 31 March 2018.

I live in Essex, how do I contact the new provider? From 1 April there will be a new single point of contact for the initial request for support, information or advice for carers which will be provided by Carers FIRST who can be contacted on 0300 303 1555. Calls to 0300 numbers do not cost more than calling 01 and 02 numbers and are usually included in the phones minutes package.

How will Carers FIRST provide support to unpaid carers?

Carers FIRST will offer appropriate information, advice and signposting in response to all carers initial requests for support. They will run groups and activities as well as surgeries for carers to receive 1-1 support.

Carers FIRST will write to carers from the 1 April to introduce themselves and send out an information booklet which will explain more about the services they will offer. The information booklet will contain contact details as well as useful information for carers.

Is my support changing? Carers living in Essex will still be able to access a range of support services to help them in their caring role. The change is in the support currently funded by Essex County Council, which moves to being provided by Carers FIRST.

 I would like to stay with my current provider, is this possible? The Essex County Council funding for supporting Carers in Essex will be transferring to Carers FIRST. However, there is a range of support for carers which exists in the community and support may still be available.

How are the current providers affected? The Essex County Council commissioned services will be delivered by Carers FIRST and we anticipate a positive and successful working relationship with other organisations supporting carers living in Essex.

 From 1 April how will I be updated on carers’ issues and events around the county? Carers FIRST will send out a quarterly “What’s On” guide to carers which will include details of groups and activities. In addition to this Carers FIRST will email monthly e-bulletins which contain information about local groups and activities which may be of interest to carers (not just those run by Carers FIRST).

Carers FIRST will encourage carers to access information electronically so they can share information more quickly and print less so resources can be used as effectively as possible. For carers who do not have internet access, or prefer not to access information electronically, printed versions will still be made available.

Will my information be shared? No, if you wish to access support through the new provider please contact Carers FIRST Directly.

Does the new contract include support to young carers?

No, ECC commissioned Support to young carers is provided through Essex County Council Youth Service’s new Key Worker Service and local voluntary service providers. Referrals to the service can be made online at http://youth.essex.gov.uk/young-people/young-carers/ or emailing young.carers@essex.gov.uk or by phoning 0333 0322 800. Additional services for young and young adult carers are available throughout Essex.

 Carers FIRST do not currently provide services in Essex. How will Carers FIRST be able to deliver an effective service in Essex?

Carers FIRST have been delivering services to carers for 27 years. The charity has grown from a local project to a service that currently supports over 19,000 carers across West Kent, Medway, Lincolnshire and Waltham Forest. Carers FIRST have extensive experience of supporting carers who live in both rural and urban areas that face a broad range of challenges in their caring roles.

Carers FIRST plan to recruit over 80% of its team from Essex to ensure the service has the local knowledge required to deliver an effective service. Carers FIRST operate a “community working model” whereby its support staff are not office based. To support staff and the delivery of community based services Carers FIRST has developed a number of tools to help identify where carers needs exist and the services required to meet those needs. The working model is flexible which enables Carers FIRST to allocate its resources where they are most needed and deliver a quality service to carers where they live.

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