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Carers Partnership Board A Carer’s Perspective

I first learned about the Carers Partnership Board IN 2011, when I read an article by
Richard Cross (the then Chairman of the CPB) in the carers’ magazine regarding the
work of the Board and advising that there were vacancies for additional carers’
representatives on the Board. This seems to bear out the old adage that “It pays to
advertise”, because I was sufficiently interested to contact Richard to find out more
about the work of the CPB and to establish what the commitment would be in terms of
time, meetings, travelling and so forth.
Suffice to say, I am now in my fourth year as a member of the CPB and enjoying the role
of carers’ representative, but why is this? One of the principal strengths of the CPB lies
in its composition – a partnership of carers’ representatives, voluntary organisation
representatives and officers and members of Cambridgeshire County Council.
Significantly, from my perspective, the carers are well represented both in terms of
numbers and because they fill the posts of Chairman and Vice Chairman. Equally
important is the stated aim that carers on the Board are invited to attend as “Experts by
Experience”, bringing their own awareness of relevant issues of their own client group
area ( defined as physical disability, learning disability, older people, young carers and
mental health).
However, what is involved in being a member of the Board? In practice, the CPB aims to
meet every two months at locations around the county, ideally venues that are as
accessible as possible for those attending. This is not always easy to achieve, given the
diverse nature of the organisations represented on the Board and the steady increase of
traffic around the county! One of the tasks of the CPB is to oversee the progress and
delivery of work within the Carers Strategy – a document which is still being fine-tuned.
This, together with partnership planning for carers across different service areas – all
against a backdrop of ever tightening financial resources – makes for lively and
challenging discussions. Meanwhile, the Department of Health continues to introduce
new initiatives for carers the implications of which can be wide-ranging. Finally, a
significant function of the Board is to communicate with and reach out to carers across
the county. This is not an easy task given the estimated number of “hidden” carers.
In summary, if you are a carer with the time to commit to attending meetings (not easy, of
course, when this has to be factored into all the demands required of a carer!), and to
read the background papers generated by the work of the CPB, you will find that being a
carers’ representative is worthwhile and rewarding.
Stuart de Prochnow

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