Mutual caring

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The Mutual Caring Project was set up to help promote recognition of good practice and develop improved service provision for older families where the balance of the caring relationship between the long-term family carer (often a parent) and the person with learning disabilities (normally an adult son or daughter) has changed.

Aims of the project

  • Develop and promote good practice in supporting older families to plan for the future where a person with learning disabilities is providing regular and substantial care to their elderly relative.
  • Provide expertise and support to a sample of Local Authorities to build up evidence of how to develop a coordinated response to support people who are providing mutual care.
  • Champion innovation and good practice in relation to mutual caring.
  • Disseminate good practice and lessons learned from the development work.

Key Points and Recommendations

There needs to be:

  • national data collection to measure the level of mutual caring
  • greater awareness amongst workers about mutual caring
  • appropriate questions in assessments for carers and for people with learning disabilities to identify situations of mutual caring 
  • training across a wide range of services with a particular focus on frontline staff e.g. GP receptionists and learning disability day centre workers
  • joined up working between learning disability and older people’s services to make sure information is shared and support services address the interdependent needs of the family carer and the person with a learning disability (this may require new protocols)
  • development of the capacity of local carers' services to respond to the needs of this group of people
  • access to person centred planning support that involves all family members who can usefully contribute including older family carers and siblings
  • partnership working between Learning Disability Partnership Boards, mainstream older people’s strategy and carers’ programmes e.g. use of the Carers Grant to benefit mutual carers  Accessible information for families about mutual caring
  • carers’ assessments carried out with both the family carer and  the carer with learning disabilities leading to practical, joined up outcomes, including robust emergency plans
  • care packages and personal budgets that reflect the changing nature of the caring relationship and take into account the needs and preferences of both family members
  • promotion of Circles of Support as a way of involving more people in a family's network
  • improved advocacy for older people and people with learning disabilities providing mutual care
  • support groups for people with learning disabilities who are caring to make sure they get the practical and emotional support they need.

More information

For more information on the mutual caring project, just contact us.

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