Caring for carers during lockdown

05 Aug 2020

Carers are improving their digital skills and ability to access online information and support thanks to the DevicesDotNow initiative.

Caring Together is a leading charity supporting carers of all ages across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk. It provides information and advice, runs community services and campaigns for carers to have better choices.

In March, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, Caring Together had to drastically change how it operates in order to maintain the support the charity offers. Since March it has supported over 1,200 people through its specialist carers’ helpline and has run virtual Zoom sessions for 236 carers.

The pandemic has had a profound effect on the carers’ lives. Andy Barber, Engagement Manager at Caring Together tells us: “COVID-19 means we are unable to hold face-to-face groups, but much more than that, COVID-19 has massively impacted the lives of carers. Many families who had help from other people saw this disappear due to shielding and social distancing, increasing their caring duties and decreasing their ability to take a break.”

Caring Together - a member of the Online Centres Network - received some tablets for their carers through the DevicesDotNow initiative. Andy tells us: “Carers have been able to access information about the health of the person they care for, such as online GP consultations, mental health support, or the latest guidance around shielding and accessing support. Other carers have been able to join in with virtual carer groups that we and other organisations are running.”

As lockdown eases, Andy and the Caring Together team are adapting to their new way of working. “Each stage of easing of the lockdown will look a little different and we are mindful that things are different for carers – some people will be shielding for quite some time, and others may take time to feel confident to head out or go to a group again. We know the impact on the physical and mental health of many carers, and the people they look after, has also been significant. That will be something we need to continue to support them with for some time.”

“And given the impact on the economy and therefore funding at both national and local level, we’re going to be providing support in very challenging circumstances – for the carers we work with and for us as a charity.

DevicesDotNow is a joint initiative from FutureDotNow and the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport supported by Good Things Foundation. Find out more about the initiative, including how you can get involved here.