Carers (health and wellbeing needs in South Tyneside)


  • The Carer's Action Plan acted as a catalyst during the development stage of the Carers JSNAA, which highlighted that the views of Carers within South Tyneside were not well represented.
  • A thematic questionnaire was produced which aligned to the themes derived from the Carer's Action Plan and the annual 'State of Caring' national survey. The following Carer Groups / Forums were consulted:
    • South Tyneside Adult Carer's Service (STACS) - Hebburn Carers Forum
    • South Tyneside Adult Carer's Service (STACS) - Boldon Carers Forum
    • Mental Health Concern Carers Forum
    • South Tyneside Adult Carer's Service (STACS) - Parent Carers Forum
    • Humankind Young Carer's Service - Young Carers Forum

Below are the views / themes expressed during the focus groups:

Recognition of Carers

  • Carers still feel that they are not fully recognised in society and have difficulties in the following areas;
    • Inconsistencies with GPs; no priority for appointments, referrals to support services differ in priority for each practice.
    • Private businesses lack recognition of carers which adds to daily stress e.g. banks, utility tend to not listen to carers when dealing with issues for their cared for person.
    • Data Protection barriers.

Information and Advice

  • Carers feel that Information and Advice access can be challenging and have difficulty in the following areas;
    • Information is not consistent across different services, so the carers don't always get to find out about what support is available.
    • There is not enough 1-2-1 support, peer support groups in good locations.
    • Online resources on the Council's website can be difficult to navigate.


  • Carers feel that they don't have enough knowledge about the assessment process and have difficulty in the following area;
    • Assessment reviews are not managed well with carers reporting gaps in service of 2 - 3 years.
    • Lack of knowledge about assessments and what is available has led to a fear that support will be removed if they establish contact.
    • Lack of respite options for cared for and carer, especially referring to Mental Health.

Employment / Financial Wellbeing

  • Carers feel there is a lack of understanding about their roles within organisations and have difficulty in the following areas;
    • Needs of cared for have become too great so impossible to work and care without having severe impact on the carer.
    • Difficulty getting the cared for to accept outside help.
    • Benefits system too stressful and complicated.
    • Perception that employers think they can't rely on you.
    • A lot of parent carers can't work but still have to pay for everything e.g. dental, prescriptions, eye tests etc.


  • Carers feel wary of technology and have difficulty in the following areas;
    • Carers predominantly would like face-to-face contact.
    • Cost implications of using devices to access the internet.
    • Fear of using technology due to lack of understanding

Health and Wellbeing

  • Carers feel their health is affected by caring and have difficulty in the following areas;
    • High anxiety worrying about cared for, struggle to switch off.
    • Lack of relaxation.
    • Weight loss.
    • Physical and Mental Health suffers.

Loneliness and Isolation

  • Carers feel they have difficulty in the following areas;
    • Friends don't understand their situation and eventually drift away.
    • Struggle to commit to friendships which leads to a lack of enthusiasm to try forge relationships
    • Time acts as a barrier to social inclusion.

Ideas for future provision;

  • Greater awareness and promotion of carers within the private business sector including deeper understanding of caring responsibilities.
  • Forms of ID for carers.
  • Continuity of care with named professionals throughout carer's journey.
  • Increased access to information in relation to diagnosis and support, for Parent Carers specifically.
  • Greater awareness of support across the borough for carers.
  • Information packs for carers detailing support services and FAQs.
  • Enhanced accessibility for carers, not just online resources.
  • Carer policies standardised within employment which includes local carer involvement.
  • Access to training for employment.
  • Assistance to better understand the Benefits system.
  • Classes to help achieve qualifications in the use of Technology that are time flexible.
  • Innovative solutions to respite.
  • Enhanced Befriending services.
  • More peer support and groups.
  • Greater partnership work within the borough between partners to increase offer for carers.
  • Prior to the Focus Groups, a survey was distributed to local carers throughout South Tyneside in 2018. A number of organisations assisted with collation of the qualitative data required. The information below provides an overview of the results;
    • 61% of respondents said they had received support to assist with their caring responsibilities;
    • Support predominantly consists of support groups, family, friends, local authority assistance and self-support;
    • A Key asset to help carer continue their caring roles consisted of having a fair amount of respite and support in the workplace;
    • Easier access to information and facilities;
    • Out of hours services;
    • Holistic support and advice within 1 place;
    • Health professionals being more helpful with signposting;
    • Innovative ways to help, use of assistive technology;
    • Increased respite;
    • Education Health Care Plan process to be more clear and easier to follow;
    • Better access to Mental Health support;
    • Domestic help for older carers;
    • Increased opportunities to socialise;
    • Increased opportunities to communicate with other carers.
  • Members of the public were canvassed for views on carer awareness at three key public locations across South Tyneside during October 2019. The aim was to identify hidden carers as well as assess and understand the knowledge that both carers and non-carers have of support and services available. Below are the results:
    • 56 people were approached for their views.
    • 62% of the respondents were female and 38% male.
    • 36% of the respondents were aged 70 - 79 which eclipsed the second highest age category of 50-59 by 20% more.
    • School and employment may have been the factors between the age differences in respondents as people aged 0-49 made up 21% compared to 79% who were aged 50+.
    • 30% of the respondents were identified as carers, of which 70% knew where to get support.
    • The main support services identified were Social Service, Age Concern and Carers Support Organisation. However, almost a quarter of respondents did not know.
  • When Non-carers where they would go or signpost someone for help and support they responded
Social Services50.0
Other (school, online, etc.)27.0
Social Services and GP9.0
Family and GP5.0
  • When carers were asked where would they go for help and support?
Social Services23.5
Age Concern23.5
Don't Know/would have to research23.5
Carers support17.5
Young carers6.0