Carers Information and Advice in Kirklees

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Kirklees Council aimed to develop their information and advice service so that carers in the area are helped and supported in their caring role. In order to do this, Kirklees Council took a co-produced approach whereby carers set the desired service outcomes and helped to pick the successful organisations. Bidders were encouraged to work together in collaboration.

Whose idea was it to do this?

Kirklees Council, through their regular discussion with carers, saw that they needed to improve access to good local advice and information to support carers in their caring role in the area.

What was the issue?

The information and advice service needed to span the whole of Kirklees, which is a large area within which there are a number of districts with different characteristics. The service also needed to work for carers of people with many different disabilities and differing needs and aspirations. It was important that the service was based within local communities, was easy to find and welcoming and that people providing the service had excellent local knowledge. It was clear that there was no single organisation in Kirklees which would be able to deliver all of these aspects.

How were people involved?

To find the right solution, the Council worked with local carers to set the outcomes that information and advice services should aim to achieve, without specifying how this would be done. The idea was to encourage organisations with an interest in providing the service to think hard about what they could do to support carers.

The stated aim of the service was to promote, support and improve the mental, physical and emotional well-being of adult carers in Kirklees, so they can continue in their caring role, look after their own health and wellbeing and have a life of their own.

Kirklees Council felt that the best solution was likely to be a partnership between a number of organisations, working together to create a network of support providing a varied but seamless service.

In order to achieve these aims, the Council decided to run a long tender period (bids were to be drafted over a five month period) so that potential bidders could discuss the service with carers and build relationships with a consortium of partners. An initial event was held for all potential bidders to explain what the Council and the carers wanted to achieve. This was well attended and enabled organisations to discuss the vision for meeting the outcomes specified by carers and to start to form the partnerships that were seen as crucial to the successful delivery of the service. The second event was set up at the request of the bidders who attended the initial meeting and enabled bidding organisations to talk to local carers about their thoughts on the service and incorporate this into their bids.

Finally, the bids were then evaluated by a panel which involved carers themselves. This ensured that carers had input into the decision over who should be awarded the contract and ensured that carers were involved throughout the process.

What good things happened?

The winning service is said to be achieving great success. It supports carers to think about their outcomes and improve their wellbeing. It monitors carers' progress against their outcomes at key times and carers accessing the service have shown progress against almost all of the outcomes specified. This is said to have been achieved through close collaboration with carers throughout, by knowing the complexities of the local market, by ensuring there was enough time for real coproduction and collaboration, by bringing potential bidders together early on and by including carers in the bid evaluation process.

For the future, the Council is looking to extend the service to include formal support for parent carers of disabled children - who are currently not included in the service - as this feels like a natural development and feedback from parents suggests this would be welcomed.