Carers and safeguarding
Who is an unpaid carer?
An unpaid carer is someone who provides care and support to family members, friends and neighbours; sometimes they can care for more than one person. The people they support may be affected by disability, physical or mental ill health, frailty or substance misuse. Anyone can become a carer at any point in their life. Carers can also be any age from young children to the elderly. 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.
Carers and Safeguarding:
It is important for people who work with carers to use their professional curiosity, to be aware of the fact carers have a significant part to play in safeguarding and can be affected in many ways. 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 supporting their cared for, 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 their cared for.
Risk of abuse to carers
Research has found the risk of abuse to carers themselves increases when the following occurs:
- the carer is isolated
- the carer lacks access to sufficient practical and emotional support from family, friends, professionals etc.
Carers can be at increased risk of abuse from their cared for when the cared for:
- has health and care needs that exceed the carer’s ability to meet them
- does not consider the needs of the carer and other individuals
- is discourteous and disrespectful to the carer
- declines external support e.g. replacement care
- insists on being supported 24/7
- exerts control over finances, property and day to day living arrangements
- is aggressive and hostile towards the carer
- has a history of substance misuse, unusual or offensive behaviour
- does not understand their actions and their impact on the carer
- chastises and rejects others as a result of feeling anger at their situation
- does not meet the criteria for support, after reaching out to receive this.
Risk from carers to those they care for
There is a risk of intentional or unintentional harm, or neglect, that carers could pose to the person they care for. Some of the following could increase the risk of this happening:
- the carer has needs of their own, which have either not been identified or are unmet
- the carer has limited understanding of their cared for person’s needs and/or condition
- the carer has had to make unwanted changes to their life to look after the person
- the carer gets limited support (emotional or practical) from their family, friends etc.
- the carer feels isolated, unappreciated and stigmatised
- they juggle their caring role with other responsibilities e.g. employment
- the carer has little, or no life outside of caring e.g. no time to pursue another interest
- they consistently seek support and solutions to issues but don’t receive this
- the carer is experiencing abuse themselves, from the cared for and/or another source
- the carer feels unappreciated by the person they care for
- they feel exploited by family and/or services.
It is really important that when supporting carers and those they care for, that they have access to timely advice, information & support, including robust assessments and care and support planning.
A Care Act 2014 and/or carer’s assessment are an ideal chance to support individuals to investigate their situation and explore what advice or support can be provided to prevent abuse or neglect from occurring. This could include provision of assistive technology and training about the cared for person’s condition to enable the carer to provide safe and consistent care.
Sometimes the support can be as simple as giving the carer the time and space to talk about how they are feeling.
If a carer discloses abuse or neglect, we must ensure their concerns are listened to and if appropriate a safeguarding enquiry is undertaken, including key agencies.
If a carer experiences intentional/unintentional harm from the person they are supporting, or if the carer is the one intentionally/unintentionally harming/neglecting their cared for, we must consider:
- if the risk of abuse can be reduced/removed through arranging support
- if other agencies need to be involved, to monitor and support; particularly if a criminal offence has occurred.
NSAB has created some multi-agency guidance on domestic abuse and older adults.
Carers Matter Norfolk provides carer’s assessments on behalf of Norfolk County Council. These are for people aged 18-plus who provide unpaid care and support to an adult family member or friend.
You can have a carer’s assessment even if the person you care for doesn't get any help from the council.
A carer’s assessment is a conversation about your wellbeing. It's not a test of your ability as a carer. It's an opportunity to talk about how you feel and identify sources of support for you. It will look at:
- your feelings
- your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
- the sustainability of your caring role
- how caring affects your work, finances, leisure, education, wider family and relationships
- what you'd like to achieve
If you'd like someone to call you and chat about your needs, please get in touch with Carers Matter Norfolk.
What can Carers Matter Norfolk do?
Carers Matter Norfolk is the countywide service funded by Norfolk County Council and the NHS to provide support to unpaid carers of all ages. All services are free.
Support is available to those caring for someone living in Norfolk, whether the carer lives in the county or elsewhere (caring at a distance). They are experienced in delivering carers assessments (for adult carers), action plans, emergency planning and health and wellbeing support.
They are able to connect with carers by a variety of means, for example, digitally, telephone, face to face (if/when permitted by national guidance).
They support carers by discussing their caring role (including an exploration of how it impacts on their physical and mental health) and considers advice and support needed to enable the carer to sustain their caring role.
Workers support the carer to create an action plan, to help the carer identify things they would like to improve in their life and support their caring role.
They can also signpost carers to organisations that can provide condition specific advice, information and support e.g. Alzheimer’s Society, Autism Support, DWP etc.
Carers Matter Norfolk offer social hubs, benefit information and digital inclusion support. These are mainly delivered via Zoom/Teams. They work closely with Adult Social Care, GPs, schools/education and the NHS.
The Carers Matter Norfolk home page offers further information and advice.
Carers Emergency Planning
If you're caring for someone over the age of 18 it's important you get a carer's emergency card (it's free). This will ensure that they will be safe if you're caught up in an emergency.
How to get a carer's emergency card
Create your carer’s emergency plan online. This is a set of information that includes:
- Details about the person you care for
- The things you do to help them
- Names of emergency contacts
If you're unable to fill in the online form, Norfolk County Council 0344 800 8020 (textphone 0344 800 8011). Someone will be able to help you to complete it.
Alternatively, you can contact Carers Matter Norfolk on 0800 083 1148, for help to complete the plan.
Carers UK also provide advice and guidance on emergency planning, including things to consider when completing this.
Once completed, we'll send you a carer’s emergency card (the size of a small credit card), which you should carry with you at all times.
The card states that you’re a carer and that someone is relying on you to keep them safe and well. It also shows your emergency plan number and the emergency helpline number.
It is your responsibility to keep the plan updated and notify Adult Social Care and any other parties you have shared the plan with of any changes. To amend your emergency plan, please complete the Set up a Carers Emergency Plan form with the up to date details.
What happens in an emergency?
You, or someone on your behalf, should call the emergency helpline number and give the number of your emergency plan.
The emergency helpline service will contact your named emergency contacts. Your contacts can then help the person you care for.
The service will help even if they cannot reach your named contacts or you do not have any people who can help nearby. We'll provide an initial response, to allow enough time to plan what will need to happen next.
If the emergency continues for longer, then we may have a conversation about the ongoing needs of the person you are caring for.
The emergency services know what to do if they see your carer’s emergency card.
Carer's emergency card leaflet
You can download a PDF copy of the carer's emergency card leaflet for printing if you wish to share the information with someone.
Caring for someone at risk of getting lost
Thinking ahead and completing a ‘Herbert Protocol’ form can help you find someone should they disappear.
There is more information on the Herbert Protocol in our 'resources' section, and a link to the form.
The form can be sent to the police to reduce the time taken in gathering vital information and support the investigation more quickly; safeguard them for more effectively and return them to safety before any harm can occur.
If you are a family carer, relative or care provider we advise you to the complete the form, send a copy to the police and store another one somewhere safe, in the event the person you care for was to go missing.
Message in a bottle
A message in a bottle is a simple idea designed to encourage people to keep their basic personal and medical details on a standard form and in a common location – the fridge!
It saves the emergency services valuable time if they need to enter a property in an emergency situation. Not only does it help to identify who you and your cared for are, it also identifies if you and/or your cared for have special medication or allergies. It is not only a potential lifesaver, but also it provides peace of mind to you, your friends and family by knowing that prompt medical treatment is provided and that the next of kin and emergency contacts are notified.
Who’s it for?
Anyone. Whilst it is focused on the more vulnerable people in a community, anyone can have an accident in the home, so this scheme can benefit anyone.
What does it cost?
When ordering one bottle the scheme is free to the public and is funded usually by your local Lions Club.
You may find the bottles displayed in your local GP’s surgery, local pharmacy or local Lions Club. If you have any difficulty locating a bottle please contact Lions Clubs Headquarters 0845 833 9502.