It’s been a proud week for Leeds as we jumped at the chance to host an event for four esteemed representatives from the Standing Commission on Carers. The Standing Commission is an independent advisory body providing expert advice to ministers and the Carers Strategy Cross Government Board on progress in delivering the national carers strategy. During their visit, Dame Phillipa Russell (Chair) was accompanied by Anne Smyth (Deputy Chair), Robina Mallett (Member) and Dawn O’Rooke (Member) to find out more about the work we’re doing in Leeds to support personalisation and carers in Leeds.
The Standing Commission was established in December 2007. It identifies strategic challenges and opportunities associated with caring, paying particular regard to:
• demographic changes
• developments in public policy
• changing relationships in families
• equality and diversity
• improvements in technology
All four guests were very keen to understand exactly how we’re putting carers and personalisation on the map in Leeds and so, in the morning, the agenda started with a short presentation from the Peer Support and Personalisation Project. The project’s aim is to increase the number of people in receipt of recovery focussed support, with the use of personal budgets and peer support.
Following an introduction from Fiona Martin it was the turn of Jenny Titcombe, Siobhan Martin and Elisia Sharp who, as practicing Social Workers, really brought to life what personal budgets has meant in changing lives for people with Mental Health recovery needs. We heard of real stories based entirely on real people with real testaments as to how personal budgets have positively impacted on the lives of those needing a different kind of support.
Jenny Thornton from Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust then gave a presentation about the Peer Support Worker project. This project employs people who have experience of having mental health issues to offer peer support to people with mental health issues.
As one person who has been helped commented “Knowing we have been through something similar and come out the other side, gives hope.” It is this shared experience of having ‘been there’ that is at the heart of the work of the peer support worker project.
I think most would agree that perhaps the most poignant part of the day was when Carers shared their lives; their experiences and what life was really like for them and the friends and families they help support. At one point, there was barely a dry eye in the house.
Val Hewison, Chief Officer of Carers Leeds, who kindly played the hostess with the most-ess on Tuesday in their offices on the Headrow said:
It was a fantastic opportunity to give carers and members of the Standing Commission on Carers time to think, discuss and explore some of the issues, challenges and positive aspects of personalised care.
We really were honoured to be asked to host the event but for me, it really was the truth behind the carer’s stories that will resonate with me for the longest of times and I hope too, in the memories of our esteemed guests. We know that the service we provide here is a lifeline; that was made very clear today and that’s something that not only I’m proud of, but the carers of Leeds too.
The final part of the day, was held at the Age UK Leeds café where all members of the event attended for further discussions and afternoon tea and where we held a private interview with Dame Phillipa Russell, Anne Smyth, Robina Mallett and Dawn O’Rooke. The transcript of this interview will be published tomorrow.
Finally, thank you to everyone who helped make this two day event such a success.