Carmarthenshire Carers Forum exists to allow Carers to have a voice in shaping and improving their experience with service providers in Carmarthenshire. A service provider may be a local authority, health board or third sector organisation.
The Forum also allows Carers to share their caring experiences with one another so that we can all learn where and how to get help when we need it and assist others who may be struggling to cope.
Currently the Forum doesn’t have a permanent office and is managed entirely by members. It is our aim to make the Forum as useful as possible to Carers in Carmarthenshire.
Why we’re here
The Carmarthenshire Carers Forum talks to Carers and listens to what you have to say. Carers are all very different and their experiences vary depending on their circumstances and their journey. Some become Carers overnight, for others it is more gradual. Often it takes a long time for someone to realise they are a Carer, more often people see themselves as parents, children, siblings, friends or spouse. It seems natural to care for those we love, yet often we are not truly prepared for the role that we may, almost casually adopt. There are about 25,000 unpaid carers in Carmarthenshire, almost 8 million in the UK as a whole, and the majority are unaware that they are entitled to help and support in their Caring role.
Carers in Wales provide services worth some seven billion pounds per annum. If that amount needed to be funded from public money the consequences would be disastrous for society. That is why national government and local government want to support Carers and ensure that they continue to care.
In Wales we have had legislation that has recognised the importance of Carers. A bill was passed in 2010 called the Carers Measure that gave certain legal rights to Carers. The principal agencies tasked with delivering support to carers are Social Services (Carmarthenshire County Council) and the Local Health Board (Hywel Dda).
In order to deliver support to Carers funding was made available and these two public bodies started working together to provide the support called for in the legislation.
The necessity for Health and Social Services to work together is now a recognised as a prime objective throughout the UK but two different organisations, with very different cultures do not easily combine into one seamless, expert service. Even though five years have gone by since the Carers Measure delivery of support services to Carers is, at best, patchy.
Those in charge make decisions at the highest levels that affect all of us. The Carers Forum exists to represent Carers interests and views and to try and ensure that those decisions are based on a realistic knowledge of what is happening at the point of service-delivery.
We also suggest how existing provision might be improved to deliver a better service to Carers. Often this may involve looking at services to the “cared for” because the well being of both is necessary if we are to be satisfied with how we are treated.
We also work with other groups and organisations that may be providing help to either Carers directly or to those they care for. Organisations like Crossroads, Mencap, The Alzheimers Society, Carers UK, The Carers Trust and others all have an interest in how Carers are treated. We work as closely as we can with as many bodies as we can to make sure that Carers are receiving all the help and support they need.
We’re a registered charity and all of our Trustees are Carers. We have no premises, no staff and no equipment. Trustees are volunteers who can claim travelling expenses and replacement care costs but cannot be re-imbursed for the time they contribute. We are here to listen to you and to try and ensure that those who make the decisions listen to us when we tell them what your experiences are.