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June 2022

A CD sort out ...

I was asked to do a bit of clearing out to make some space. Sorting through the CD collection I came across a real favourite. The case was very scratched and damaged, but the disc played fine. 

Quiz question - can you name the song and artist from the following line:

I am the one in ten, a number on a list

I am the one in ten, even though I don't exist

Nobody knows me, but I'm always there ….

Sure … you got it … it’s the first three lines to UB40's classic track One in Ten from their album Present Arms. Along with The Clash and The Specials, UB40 were one of my favourite bands at school (and since). I listened to them all the time, particularly the first three albums Signing off, Present Arms and UB44.

A play on this statistic came to me last week:

I am the one in eight, a number on a list

I am the one in eight, even though I don't exist

Nobody knows me, but I'm always there ….

I am thinking about informal carers. 1 in 8 adults (around 6.6 million) adults in the UK are carers, and over 5 million are juggling work with caring responsibilities. These words fit well,  as many of us may have a friend or colleague who is also a carer, but we are not aware of this. Many readers of this blog might be a carer or know someone who is. 

Anyone can become a carer at any point in their life, at any age, from young children to older adults. Sometimes they can care for more than one person. A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness or mental health condition, addiction, or who needs extra help as they grow older. It isn’t someone who volunteers or is employed to provide support.

In Norfolk it is estimated there are over 100,000 unpaid carers, providing essential care and support. The caring role can be demanding, stressful and isolating. However, there is support available for carers in Norfolk.

Monday 6 June is the start of national Carer Awareness Week and the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board (NSAB) is keen to support it and promote what local partners are doing as part of this. Norfolk has some great organisations supporting carers, and I would name check Carers Matter, Carers Voice and Norfolk Family Carers who do outstanding work. Leading adult social work to support carers is Marie Smith.

Evidence shows that carers often suffer from poor mental and/or physical health, with 8 in 10 people who care for loved ones reporting feelings of loneliness and isolation. But we also know that many carers want to care for those they love – but need to be recognised and supported to do so. It’s also the case that many people don’t identify or recognise themselves as carers, so may not be getting the help and support they need and deserve. (Do tell people about the carers information day at Norwich Forum on Monday 13 June).

This is an important topic for adult safeguarding, particularly from a preventative point of view. There are two parts to this. First, we want to encourage people to come forward early if they are finding caring a pressure, to access support before the stress get too much (and in some instances leads to abuse of the carer or the person they care for). Secondly, it is important for people who work with carers to use their professional curiosity, to be aware of the significant part that carers play in safeguarding. They can be vulnerable to harm / abuse, can themselves be a perpetrator, or can be the person who reports a concern. Situations that necessitate a safeguarding response involving a carer could arise from:

  • the carer witnessing or disclosing the existence of abuse or neglect
  • when caring for their family member or friend, experiencing deliberate or unintended harm directly from them or from institutions and professionals they engage with
  • independently, or with others, deliberately or accidentally harming or neglecting the person in need of care.

I would encourage you to have a look at: Carers and safeguarding: a briefing for people who work with carers (Feb 2022) from The Local Government Association.

On Friday 10 June there will be a focus on older carers. Here I would highlight the issue of domestic abuse and older carers and what we can learn from a recent Norfolk Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) called 'Daisy' (Daisy is a pseudonym).

Daisy was aged 89 when she was killed by her husband Richard (81) in 2019. Daisy and Richard were known to be a devoted and caring couple, who wished to maintain their independence and privacy for as long as they could. Here is summary of the case and the learning it offers:

  • carer stress not recognised and assessed – Richard never had a carer’s assessment
  • carer status – the importance of recognising carers, especially where they don’t recognise themselves as carers
  • need for co-ordination where multiple or complex needs exist – e.g. Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) review
  • psychological wellbeing of those with life-limiting illness and their carers – in this case there had been no specialist Multiple Sclerosis review / support

NSAB created a presentation on this DHR which was shared with our Locality Safeguarding Adults Partnerships, and now on our website in the section on DHRs.

In support of Carers Week you can do one or more of the following quick actions to help share information on carers and safeguarding:

  1. Show someone the dedicated carers and safeguarding page on the website (there is lots of information there)
  2. Find out more about the event and other sources of support for carers on our website
  3. Tell people about the carers information day at Norwich Forum on Monday 13 June
  4. Use the DHR 'Daisy' at your next team meeting to talk about how your service can use this learning

And if you are wondering, I couldn't part with the UB40 CD, not yet anyway. It's still part of my collection. Sorry if this tune has now become an earworm.

Thank you.

Walter Lloyd-Smith, NSAB Board Manager

Email: walter.lloyd-smith@norfolk.gov.uk

Monday 06 June 2022