DfE Carers Support Network Committee
The DfE Carers Network always provided a safe space for carers to share struggles and get advice and support. The Carers’ Committee is constantly striving to widen membership, increase and segment understanding of user needs, and tailor it’s support offer. With a score of 62/65 we achieved Level 1 Carers Accreditation this year.
Covid placed huge pressures on carers – including the committee itself. However, it’s presented an opportunity to further our aims – never waste a crisis!
Understanding our users – In March we segmented users, conducting user research through surveys, interviews and workshops to scenario plan how each might be affected by covid and developed a support package. For example, despite committee members being active carers they gave hours of personal time to listen, connect carers with others and offer support in extremely emotionally challenging circumstances.
Tailored the offer – We moved to weekly themed drop-ins aligned with user types. We maintained the supportive tone but a) brought in entertaining and engaging guest speakers which lightened the mood and cheered people up b) shared practical tips - advice on being a ‘sandwich’ carer, managing difficult conversations with loved ones and care homes about visits and calls c) developed case studies and weekly tips carers could share with LMs to explain the situation they now faced and the support they needed and d) obtained insight into experiences that we used to feed into the Department’s covid special leave policies.
Furthered our reach and visibility – Alongside our priority of looking after our carers we kept focus on raising awareness and visibility. Weekly updates kept members informed and jump-started a new dialogue with ideas for sessions and support, and it was the carers network which organised a cross-department diversity network session with the Perm Sec to increase collaboration between the networks and raise awareness.