The Carers’ Centre ‘goes digital’ — what we’ve learned on our Digital Fund journey so far
Why we applied to The National Lottery Digital Fund and what we’ve learned so far
In 2018, a new Chief Executive was appointed to the Carers’ Centre, bringing with him a new vision and challenge. Numbers of carers accessing the Carers’ Centre services was (and still is) at its highest point. Demand will only increase as national research by Carers UK charts a growing anxiety around statutory support that will be available for carers and those they support against a backdrop of cuts to adult social care services. The 2019 State of Caring Report revealed that a quarter (24%) of carers are worried that practical support for them might be reduced in the future. 1 in 8 carers reported a reduction in the services they or the person they care for receives.
This is compounding the daily challenges carers face. They often struggle to take even a day away from care responsibilities for years at a time.
It is anticipated that there will be a 60% rise in the number of carers by 2030, taking the number across the UK to over 10 million, and those in Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) from 20,000 to over 40,000. That’s without the impact of COVID-19. New research suggests that during lockdown alone the number of people caring across the UK increased by around 4.5 million. Though some of these might have been caring temporarily, many will continue to care.
So how should the Carers’ Centre respond? How can we meet the needs of all current carers in our region, as well making ourselves ready to meet the increasing need over the next 10 years?
This cannot be achieved simply through scaling up the way we work now. We’d need to quadruple in size, and in an environment of increased cuts and reductions in charitable giving that isn’t a sustainable argument.
So we put in a submission to the Digital Fund — to transform our approach and make sure we are fit for purpose in a digital society and can respond to this increased need. At the heart of this transformation was our wider community. What role can communities play to support carers directly, so that a caring community is the norm, with care responsibilities belonging to communities as a whole?
We’re over 6 months in to this digital journey and our learning curve has been steep to say the least!
- It began wrestling with what the term ‘digital’ actually means , which we’ve come to see is as much, if not more, about the culture and approach you have than the services you end up designing.
- We’ve travelled through the roller coaster of lockdown, discovering what has been essential to us as an organisation, and what was really hard.
- We discovered how valuable data is, and how much more we need to work on this.
- We’ve started to embed a more user centred approach in to our work, both with young carers and adult carers, most recently through a Design Hop with CAST.
As our lockdown learnings show, we’ve had some success, made mistakes, and faced a lot of challenges along the way! We’re still very much at the start of our journey, and we’d love for you to travel it with us and let us know your thoughts on what we’re doing. You can follow our progress on our blog, and here, through the Digital Fund!