The discount scheme elements of Carer Passports have become well established in some areas, perhaps leading to the perception that this defines what a community-based Carer Passport is. While it is important to note the success of these discount scheme elements, it is equally important to note that the offer to carers should be wider and deeper, even if some carers choose to use only the discount element.
Carers in Herts
The Community Carer Passport offered by Carers In Hertfordshire does have a strong focus on discounts (hence it is often referred to as the Carers Discount card), while also having wider reach. It is currently held by 8,500 carers. Early engagement with carers by Carers In Hertfordshire begins a relationship which makes a broad offer and seeks to normalise the caring experience.
In early 2017, over 3,500 additional carers registered for the card – with GPs referring 1,000 carers to the scheme. The card is valid for three years.
An important element of the Hertfordshire scheme is that it is designed to connect back into the core Carers In Hertfordshire provision for carers. When signing up, carers are linked to advice and information, carers support groups, newsletters, etc, to ensure they receive ongoing support if they wish to remain connected.
The Hertfordshire model lists 350 offers, via a booklet. It is promoted via local libraries, for example, who in turn benefit from an increased footfall. Local coffee shops display stickers on their doors.
Carers who register with the Carers Information Service are offered a Carers Card which gives them access to discounts in a wide range of the businesses. The scheme is funded by Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, and Borough of Poole and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group. It provides free and easy sign-up and has the potential to reach 6,000 carers locally. Over 150 businesses are signed up, some with several branches across the county.
In Bournemouth and Poole, carers were sent leaflets with their cards in order so they could encourage local businesses to join the scheme. Interest from carers has also increased membership of the local Carers Information Service, which is open to all carers. Feedback from carers has been positive and staff delivering the scheme have seen its potential to widen to new settings, explaining that ‘as a concept, it’s almost limitless!’
One professional mentions carers at a local dementia partnership meeting who had made their own laminated ID cards to show they are carers. This arose simply because, when they tried to explain to the GP receptionist and others that they are a carer, the person they care for had become agitated or embarrassed. Having a card which they could show made this easier. These carers loved the idea of a card to further legitimise their position as carer.
In some local authorities, carers are signed up to a Carers Register and given a Carers Card which enables them to access certain services. Carer Support Services operate full and comprehensive services to carers throughout the country, proactively identifying carers, creating a record, assessing their needs, coordinating or navigating support and services with carers, and providing an offer of support directly to carers themselves.
These services also have a range of branded literature, raise professional awareness and promote self-identification. However, while each service could be considered to be offering a local Passport to carers, they don’t currently identify their own services (or offers) with the Carer Passport concept.