I was delighted to attend the launch of ‘Care Companion’ – a new free online resource for people with caring responsibilities across Coventry and Warwickshire. Care Companion has been designed to help with the emotional, social, day-to-day organisational and other demands of caring.
I first became aware of Care Companion when one of my constituents (who herself has extensive experience as a carer of a close family member) got in touch to say that the launch was imminent and to see if I would be interested in playing a part in it. She knows that I have a particular interest in this area.
The Care Companion has been developed by Warwick Medical School and capably headed up by Professor Jeremy Dale, who has led the research that underpins it. The platform has been some years in the making, and contributions have come from a range of stakeholders including Warwickshire County Council, South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Coventry and Rugby CCG. Perhaps most importantly, the platform has been developed in conjunction with carers themselves.
At the launch, my constituent gave a moving account of her own experience on the caring journey, and highlighted the lack of signposting and support that was available to her. The Care Companion seeks to remedy this by providing, amongst other things, an address book of contacts tailored to the user, who fills in a questionnaire at the start to confirm some key details about their own situation. There is also the all-important ‘journal’ function which helps carers to keep good records, plus ‘reminders’ for appointments. One local carer has praised the Care Companion for helping him through the ‘bubble of confusion’ after taking on caring responsibilities.
The more I have learnt about Care Companion, the more I have seen the great potential and value in it as a tool for carers, who are on the ‘front line’ of providing support to loved ones yet can sometimes be forgotten. One particular aspect of the Care Companion experience that struck me was that carers who log on are asked the simple yet crucially important question: ‘How are you doing today?’.
As residents of Coventry and Warwickshire, we are lucky to have access to this unique and innovative resource. I am sure that it will make a real difference to our carers – and by extension to those they care for – at the same time as assisting the NHS and social care services as they navigate the challenges of increasing demand. It would not have been possible without hard work and careful reflection on the part of stakeholders, and I commend them for it.
Carers can register for the Care Companion at: www.carecompanion.org.uk
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