Surrey plans care contracts to help "unsung heroes"

CARERS in Surrey are to get more help and support under a planned contract to provide more rest breaks.

Surrey County Council and the area's six Clinical Commissioning Groups are set to sign a deal with charity Crossroads Care that will see its staff go into homes to care for loved ones, providing unpaid "unsung heroes" with an extra 500 days of breaks.

As part of a separate contract, charity Action for Carers Surrey will increase the number of people it supports to 20,000 a year and will operate extended hours in evenings and on Saturdays.

The council said the moves aim to ensure that families stay together in their own homes for longer at a time when rising demand for services such as adult social care means the county faces a £30m budget gap next year.

The authority estimates that it would have to spent the equivalent of up to £10m extra every year on providing more expensive types of support in care or nursing homes over the four years the contracts could last. The initial deals will last for two years with options for extensions.  

Mel Few, Surrey County Council's cabinet member for adult social care, said: "Carers play an invaluable role and make such an enormous contribution in helping people stay in their homes, which is what they want. That is why it is vital we do as much as we can to help them.

"Without Surrey's unsung heroes we would face the prospect of spending up to £10m more a year on care for their loved ones at a time when growing demand for services for older and disabled people is putting our finances under severe strain."