Service in Focus – Cardiff and Vale Carers Gateway

March 2020 is a time most of us will never forget. We all know where we were and what we were doing when lockdown was first announced and perhaps we’ll never know a Spring quite as strange as 2020 again in our lifetimes.

Whilst many services came to a halt, CTSEW’s teams worked through the pandemic, supporting carers and people with care needs both in person and via online tools such as Zoom and WhatsApp.

March 2020 also marked the launch of CTSEW’s Cardiff and Vale Carers Gateway service. Despite being in the early stages of the first lockdown, the service officially launched on 24 March 2020 and referrals of carers into the service started immediately and haven’t stopped!

The idea behind the creation of the Carers Gateway was to create a hybrid service offering four main elements: wellbeing support for carers; counselling for carers (in the Vale only); building Carer Friendly communities and engaging directly with unpaid carers across the region.

Since launching the service has operated a helpline that has been available every working day (with the exception of public holidays) and had over 500 referrals to help carers practically and emotionally. The team have created partnerships and made services in the community more attuned to the needs and challenges faced by carers and consulted directly with dozens of unpaid carers in the area. Staff have delivered training, awarded emergency grants and helped carers in all sorts of creative ways through the pandemic.

Wellbeing for carers

The Cardiff and Vale Carers Gateway provides information, advice and practical support to unpaid carers in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. The aim of the service is to improve the quality of life for carers in Cardiff and the Vale, helping carers to make the most of their life alongside their caring role and maintain their independence.

The service has supported carers across a wide range of subjects, including: physical, emotional and mental health, education and training, protection from abuse and neglect, recreation, good family and personal relationships, social and economic wellbeing, suitable living accommodation, securing rights and entitlements and making a contribution to society.

The service supported 526 individual carers in 2020/21

Counselling for carers

Our carers counsellor offers a service within a service. Funded by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (for the Vale area), professional counselling support is delivered by our fully qualified counsellor for adult carers supporting someone with dementia or a mental health issue.

Setting up the service went through a rigorous process in order to ensure that the service was safe and ethical. This included arranging confidentiality for case records, publicity, networking and engagement with other local mental health professionals and finally the delivery of 1-2-1 counselling and the setting up of a dedicated Peer Support Group.

Engaging with carers

Another key element of the service is focused on engaging with carers. 10 carers Expert Panels have been held during 2020/21 and carers have been consulted on a wide variety of issues such as:

  • Key CTSEW developments such as our new Operational Plan for 2021/2023
  • Welsh Government and Local Authority consultions on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on carers day-to-day experiences
  • Research pieces from third sector organisations such as GVS and Carers UK

All meetings have been virtual and not all carers are able to attend regularly due to caring commitments or available technology, but meeting minutes are circulated to all interested parties.

Carer Friendly

Carer Friendly aims to improve, share and recognise support for carers in our communities. Carer Friendly has been designed in collaboration with carers, to improve and increase access to information and support for carers. We are working with services locally to provide them with the tools, training and support to establish good practice and to celebrate the great work they do to support carers.

Meet the team!

What do you bring to the team? (Tom): "I think I bring enthusiasm for assisting, and raising awareness of the carers in our community. I'm passionate about including hidden carers and reaching carers where they are. As I'm also training as a counsellor, hearing others' stories and experiences is very important to me."

Best moment (Rob): "I think the best moment was when I finished compiling the Annual Report for our first year and took a long hard look at what we as a team, and as an organization had achieved, especially given all the challenges of lockdown. It was pretty amazing!"

What do you bring to the team? (Dawn): "Compassion, understanding and empathy, alongside many years of experience as an unpaid carer."

Most inspirational person of all time (Rebecca): "My mother."

Best moment (Nicole): "I have only been with the Gateway for a short time but I enjoyed how one carer felt listened to and by the end of our conversation, sounded brighter and happier."

Most inspirational person of all time (Tom): "Louise Belcher from Bob's Burgers."

Best moment (Rebecca): "Getting to know my team, but also support carers to receive grants that will benefit them - the feedback from carers says it all."

Most inspirational person of all time (Lauren): UM BEYONCE OBVIOUSLY!

What does it mean to be part of the team (Dawn): "It is very rewarding to know that even just having a chat with an unpaid carer can make all the difference to that carer and they say it makes them feel they are "not forgotten ". I feel proud to have be part of a team that has reached out to support the carers throughout the past year in very unprecedented times with Covid -19."

What do you bring to the team? (Blayne):"Laughter, support, understanding and passion. I am passionate about supporting my colleagues in all areas, so we are able to then support carers further. Having experience in the mental health field, to CTSEW, I feel have been innovative in creating a professional and accessible service which supports carers mental health."

Best moment (Lauren): "The best moment of my time so far is hearing from clients that I have supported and shared that I have helped them 'change their life'."

What do you bring to the team? (Kate): "Good knowledge of services, practical support, delivering training and wellbeing sessions."

If you are a carer or you’re someone working with carers in Cardiff or the Vale of Glamorgan, we are here to help you. Please get in touch with our friendly team on 02921 921024 or email [email protected]