Carers needs assessment
In 2011 NHS Bexley approached RBE Associates to undertake a needs assessment for carers.
Health and social care commissioners wanted to gain a better understanding of the health needs of local carers. Whilst those they cared for were being well-served, they recognised that this crucial client group were sometimes overlooked and were keen to address this. Their starting point was a needs assessment which would uncover how they could respond.
RBE Associates worked closely with NHS Bexley & Bexley Social Services to better understand the challenge. Carers can be a hidden group due to their commitments, a desire to be seen to cope and many not identifying themselves as being part of this group. To develop a meaningful assessment, associates worked closely with carers organisations and carers themselves, to engage with a significant enough group to allow the development of some legitimate conclusions.
A combination of engagement techniques which included one to one interviews, focus groups, drop in sessions, testimonials and discussions with carers groups and service providers all contributed to building a vivid picture of the current challenges faced by carers. Recognising the diverse nature of this group, we segmented groups in a range of ways to ensure that age, gender and health condition were all represented – and where gaps were identified undertook additional work to ensure all voices were heard.
Even before the needs assessment was finalised, the collaborative approach stimulated some very practical improvements for carers with changes to patient transport contracts resulting in a contract amendment enabling carers to travel in hospital transport alongside those attending outpatient appointments.
The final carers needs assessment was published in December 2011 and presented to the Bexley Health & Wellbeing Board, who commended the work and put in place a strategy to meet other on-going needs of local carers.
“It was a delight to meet people who do so much for others and yet want nothing in return. The amazing thing about this work was how frequently the solutions to people’s problems were not expensive or organisationally challenging to put into place.”