Charity Grants

Creative Carers will close on 30 November 2018; this does not need to happen – time for the Council to be Creative!

Photo courtesy Creative Carers

Around 25,000 people in Derby ( ~10% of the population) are unpaid Carers – and the figure continues to grow. These are people caring for family, and friends who are disabled, or vulnerable in some way.

Quite often Carers will be juggling their caring role with family commitments, paid work, as well as their need for personal relaxation time. This is not always possible, and the opportunity for “time out” can become a forgotten priority. Over time, this can come at a personal cost to the Carer as “life” gets on top of them.

The Care Act 2014 created an obligation on the Local Authority to assess the needs of the Carer and provide funded support where certain eligibility criteria are met and their personal well-being is at risk.

Photo courtesy Creative Carers

Unpaid Carers save the Council, and other institutions a considerable amount of money each year. Given this, it must be a priority for the Local Authority to ensure that they remain fit and healthy. The alternative to an unpaid Carer is support through an assessed Local Authority care package.  This could be for occasional hours, or in more significant cases, almost full-time – this would be at a cost to the Council, of ~ £20/hr (for agency care staff).

Creative Carers is a local charity which provides individual peer support, a range of creative activities, information and respite for Carers. It is run by Carers, for Carers. And in their own words:

We believe that:

  • Those with personal experience of caring are best placed to support others
  • Carers can learn from each other by sharing experiences
  • Carers can manage their own self-care by learning new skills
  • Our self-esteem and confidence grows if we share skills or knowledge with others
  • Every carer has unique and important needs.

It receives an annual budget of £121,000 from Derby City Council and has a membership of 2000 Carers.  A cost of £60 / person pa to the Council.

This unique “experience” which operates from their “dedicated space”, Haven House, on Charnwood Street is set to close on November 30th 2018 ( Carers Rights Day).

Photo courtesy Creative Carers

Why does it have to close?

It is not due to a lack of funding – the money is available in the Council to take it through until, at least, March 2019 whilst the new strategy is being developed. This was confirmed by Cllr Webb at the Council meeting on 21st November.

It is simply an administrative issue.

Currently,  for historical reasons this contract is with Community Action Derby albeit that the whole service is delivered by Creative Carers. Community Action Derby no longer want to be involved in this arrangement – it is their right to do so.  In a simple world, the Council would contract with Creative Carers, directly, and there would a seamless transition.

It would appear that this is impossible due to the Council’s procurement rules. ( Technically it would be considered to be a supplier change and should be subject to a complete re-tendering) . Interestingly, in September 2018, the Audit and Accounts Committee did agree to a Contract Waiver that allowed a further £25,000 to be paid for an extension of 3 months.

That committee referred to “The contract with Creative Carers…”

A motion was passed at the Full Council on 21st November moved by Cllr Graves which resolved:

“the Council requests the Council Cabinet to review the decision to cease funding the main contractor, and the consequences of this, and provide funding to Creative Carers until at least April 2019.”

Photo courtesy Creative Carers

What are the alternatives?

The Council’s official position is to offer a “menu” of options to replace Creative Carers, including:

  • Personal Budgets/ Direct Payments – for short breaks , sitting services etc
  • Advice support from Local Area Co-ordinators / Talking Points
  • Advice on housing matters from Derby Direct, Derby Homes and Healthy Housing
  • Respite through the Council’s Shared Lives service
  • Assessments via Derbyshire Carers Association
  • Various commissioned services – Making Space, One advocacy, Richmond Fellowship

Members of Creative Carers have expressed a concern that these options will not represent a replacement for Creative Carers.

Comment

It feels that the Council Officers have not truly understood the value of Creative Carers / Haven House, to Carers, and, by simply providing, largely, transactional  alternatives have missed the point.

A way to view this, by example….think of a restaurant, great food, service, and a special ambience that provides a pleasant experience. It then closes down, and the alternative given is to go to a list of shops, buy the ingredients, with the option of recruiting someone to cook the meal for you….whilst sitting on your own. It may give the impression of being cheaper, but it probably wouldn’t be and, it certainly would not deliver the “experience”.

It is well within the gift of the Council to extend the contract until, at least 31 March 2019. The Council motion made it clear to the Officers and Cabinet Member, Cllr Roy Webb, what they need to do – they need to be Creative, and proceed with Care!

Photo courtesy Creative Carers

POSTSCRIPT

On the day that Creative Carers closes, and the very accessible Haven House ceases to be available , Carers Rights Day take place at the inaccessible premises of a preferred alternative, Derbyshire Carers Association – funded by Derby City Council, amongst others. An event that disabled, wheelchair user, Carers, will not be able to attend…..”PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE STAIRS” the poster states

How can this bizarre situation have been allowed to happen?

Photo courtesy Mike Smith

Categories: Charity Grants

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