Islington Council, Winner 2014, The Centrica & Carers UK Best for Carers and Eldercare Award
Islington Council is an inner London local authority, employing more than 4,000 people. It has developed a joint carers strategy in partnership with the local health authority, NHS Islington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). This policy covers both employees, and carers Borough-wide. One of the council’s aims and objectives is ‘to influence the whole system of health and social care services, as well as employers and universal services to ‘think carer’.
To do this it has developed a range of support that is available to all carers, as well as policies for it’s own workforce. This support includes: a Carers Hub service offers a one-stop-shop for all carer advice, information and support; a generous carers personal budget payment, for those eligible for social care assistance. This is based on the level of support provided by the carer which could be up to £500 for low support and up to £1,500 for high support per annum; and a flexible breaks fund (ranging from £200 for individuals to £600 for families) for those who aren’t eligible for any health or social care support.
There is also a wide range of policy and provision for employees who are carers. This enables the council to set a good example to other local employers to encourage them to develop a carers-aware approach. It also positions the council to drive the care agenda forward locally in the future.
Crucially there has been the development of a staff carers forum, established by a Carers Commissioner. This is open to all council staff and their NHS partners. It meets quarterly and all managers are encouraged to ensure that team members can attend if they wish. The forum is promoted heavily via the intranet and other channels, to keep carers visible and high on the corporate agenda.
Other ways the council supports carers includes induction and equalities training which acknowledges carers, explains their rights and signposts them to help. Carers requesting special leave for their caring role are monitored through the carers’ staff forum to scrutinise approval/decline rates across the council. Forum members are all also offered a free, bespoke carers app, Jointly. This web-based tool is designed to help the circle of people involved in caring organise diary keeping, medication notes, GP contacts between them, enabling them to make good use of new technologies in their support role.
The council is continuing to expand its support for carers. This includes developing a dedicated policy to make it easier for staff and managers to understand the scope of the offer. The council is also looking to ensure carers’ needs are included in the development of other HR policies such as flexible working and will be providing training to staff carers in their caring role. Finally, there is a carers motion to request that staff can officially register themselves as carers, so that the council can demonstrate and evidence that it is meeting the requirements under the Equalities Act 2010.