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Torbay Carers Consultation Report Released


Across Torbay, over 17,000 people care for a friend or relative (according to Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust). Every three years, an inter-agency strategy is devised, aiming to meet the needs of carers in Torbay. Torbay Carers’ Service, with input from mental health services, adult social care, and the voluntary sector, developed a survey to find out how support for carers could be improved.

The findings of the survey will be used to inform the development of the Torbay Carers’ Strategy for 2021-24. Healthwatch Torbay – the independent healthcare consumer champion service we run – was asked to undertake the analysis of the survey findings in their role as the independent consumer champion for local health and care services.

An online version of the consultation survey was created on Healthwatch Torbay’s secure website and publicised online by Healthwatch and the voluntary sector partners of the Torbay Carers’ Service.  447 responses were received; 213 surveys were returned online and 234 surveys were returned on paper and inputted online by Healthwatch volunteers.

Key Findings from Survey respondents

  • Since the last survey three years ago, there has been a notable increase in the number of people being cared for who are ‘vulnerable’ or have mental health issues.
  • Carers said their situation could be improved if they felt better supported; they would like accessible replacement (respite) care, a better relationship with health and social care services, and somebody who could check on their welfare, ideally a consistent worker.
  • 63% of those identified as Carers since 2018 who said that they could have been identified sooner, said that it could have been by the GP surgeries.
  • Respondents expressed that they were not aware of the range of information, advice, and guidance available. Nearly 90% of respondents said they would value a booklet summarising Torbay’s carer support.
  • The majority said they found services such as Hospital carer support worker, Family/carer supporter, Carers’ Orange Lanyard, Advice point and free parking for carers either ‘helpful’ or ‘extremely helpful’.
  • Relatively few respondents had used the Torbay Community Helpline, but the majority of those who had found it helpful.
  • Nearly half of respondents were struggling to some extent with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and over a third had concerns about finances or benefits.
  • More than half of respondents who used acute mental health services felt ‘not at all’ or ‘not very’ supported. Respondents with negative experiences described a poor attitude and lack of support from staff. Long waiting times for treatment was also a theme.

“Healthwatch has done an excellent job collating all the information supplied by Torbay’s Carers. Almost 450 Carers responded, which was impressive given that it was during lockdown and the fact that Covid has caused so many difficulties for unpaid Carers.” Commented Katy Heard, Carers and Volunteers Lead for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, “All of the feedback in the Healthwatch report has been used to shape Torbay Carers Strategy for 2021-24, so we are very grateful to all the Carers who completed the survey. Some of the actions, such as creating a booklet about Carers Services, are straightforward, but some, such as reversing the drop in identification of Carers by Social Care staff, are likely to take more time. Once the strategy has been fully signed off it will be published at on the ‘strategy’ tab.”

To view the report in full please click here or visit: