Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Wednesday 10th February 12 noon

Carers Forum

Although not on the agenda a slot was provided for Dennis Bartholomew, the Equality Officer for Sutton to update the Forum on new procedures for monitoring hate incidents. It was highlighted that hate incidents can be common against those with a disability as well as the more commonly recognised race hate offences. The suicide of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter was an example of disablist harassment.

 Under the new system incidents can be reported online on the Sutton website or by telephone via any Council department.

 Next we had Mark Clenaghan and Adrian Davey to talk about the Mental Health Joint Commissioning Strategy. After a brief introduction Mr Clenaghan opened the floor to questions. There was discussion about the Sutton Hospital site and questions about whether there were plans for acute crisis beds for dementia patients at St Helier, or at least somewhere closer than Tolworth. Mark advised that there were no firm plans in place yet but the emphasis for dementia was to provide as much care at home as possible until residential care was unavoidable due to the progress of the disease. I noted that whilst many would prefer to have their relatives cared for at home, there was concern that what this would actually mean was a greater burden of caring would fall onto the relatives. I know that many carers felt guilt at putting their cared for into residential care, but did this because they felt unable to cope with the demands of looking after them themselves. Mr Clenaghan advised that there was now a seven day a week, fifteen hour a day intensive care unit to support dementia patients and their carers at home being run as a six month pilot scheme. Feedback from this pilot would help develop the service before it was introduced more widely.

 One carer at the Forum raised the issue that often it was the night times that were the hardest for a carer to deal with, especially when they had other family to look after too. The emergency services were unable to offer any support other than temporary assessment, only to have the dementia patient returned home to continue in the same way.

 It raises the question of who is responsible for the welfare of our elderly residents: their relatives or the state? If it is the state then that care has to be paid for, and with our growing elderly population that cost is going to rocket. It makes economic sense to provide support for the family to continue to care for their elderly relatives, but care must be taken to ensure that the burden is not so great that it compromises the health of the carers themselves. Many people would prefer to help provide the care that their family needs, and in some cultures it is even seen as an obligation, however this can have a negative impact on the family as it may limit employment opportunities and trap the family in poverty.

The financial benefit of carers was also highlighted in the next item with Julie Wilson presenting an update on the Sutton Carers Strategy Refresh. Ms Wilson began with a mini quiz about the number of carers in Sutton. It was disclosed that carers save the NHS billions by providing care that would otherwise require health professionals and take up hospital beds in residential units, as well as the savings to social services for personal care.

Finally the theme for this year’s Carers Week was announced as ‘A Life of Their Own’.

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March 13, 2010 - Posted by | Meeting

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