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Carer Friendly Community: Hertfordshire County Council Library Service

01 June 2016

Hertfordshire County Council Library Service - Tablet session

How does Hertfordshire County Council’s library service support carers?

Hertfordshire County Council’s library service works in partnership with Carers in Herts to give extra support for carers by running Coffee & Computers and Tea & Tablets sessions for Carers to develop their IT skills and share information about library services.

A carers’ library card is also offered which gives carers an increased item allowance, an extension on the borrowing time for most items and an exemption from overdue and reservation charges. This offer was developed on the back of research that highlighted the difficulty that carers have in getting to the library regularly because of their caring commitments and the risk they run of building up high overdue charges. And for carers who might find it difficult to visit a library, a Home Library Service is on offer.

Hertfordshire County Council’s Library Service has also produced a leaflet for carers, which highlights some relevant reading material as well as contact details for useful and local organisations.

Numerous special carer events, and health and wellbeing events, are also held at Hertfordshire County Council’s libraries in partnership with Carers in Herts. For example, the first launch events for the Carers’ Passport scheme were held at Stevenage Central library and Watford Central library.

You can find out more about the Carers’ Passport scheme in Hertfordshire here:

“Our libraries are at the heart of our communities, so they are a great place for us to share information with and reach out to carers. Our enhanced library offer means that they can access the range of services on offer in a way that best suits their caring situation.”

Teresa Heritage, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Localism and Libraries


Why do carers need support from their local library?


Several years ago the library service carried out consultations with relevant community groups and people who use the library, and consulted with Carers in Herts, in relation to initiatives for carers, including young carers.

Hertfordshire County Council consulted with community groups, people who use their libraries and Carers in Herts to identify how their service could better support carers. They found that carers had difficulty getting to the library regularly because of their caring commitments and, as such, they run the risk of accumulating high charges for overdue items. Carers also said they were reluctant to use libraries because of their concern about overdue charges.

The Council developed a Carer Friendly scheme for carers, which included an increased item allowance and an exemption from overdue and reservation charges, as well as regular events and activities run in partnership with Carers in Herts.

 “We know that the health and wellbeing of carers can be affected by their caring roles. Our carers make an enormous contribution to the community and we are committed to providing them with the support they need. We want carers to be recognised for the important role they play in our community and be supported to stay fit, healthy and safe so that they can carry on caring if they want to. By offering the right support, at the right time, we can ensure that Hertfordshire remains a great place to be a carer.”

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health at Hertfordshire County Council

How have carers benefitted from the scheme?

Hertfordshire County Council’s library service provides a wide selection of books, videos, DVDs and music to help relax carers and those they care for. The staff can also help by providing information on facilities and support organisations, either in books or leaflets or on the internet, increasing awareness about being a carer and the support that is available in Hertfordshire. Our carer IT sessions give carers the opportunity to take much needed time for themselves and learn new skills.

Shirley, aged 81 from St Albans, has been caring for her husband Stan, aged 90, since he had a stroke three and a half years ago. Shirley had not accessed any support until a few months ago when she saw a Carers in Herts flyer in her GP surgery.Shirley said:

“I saw a flyer asking ‘Are you a carer?’ Up until then I didn’t really think of myself as a carer, but I spoke to the receptionist at the GP surgery and they took my details.”

As a result of registering as a carer Shirley was contacted by Carers in Herts and invited along to a carers Tea and Tablet event at St Albans library. Shirley said:

“We were taken behind the scenes and given a taster session on the tablet, and then we were shown all the new books and DVDs and told about all the other services on offer. We received a very warm welcome, it was wonderful. I’m going to go back for another session to get some more training.”

“I think it’s a brilliant service and it’s great to be able to meet new people and find out about all the things available for carers. We found it a revelation, we came away feeling absolutely revitalised.”

Carers Week 2018

These organisations joined together to make Carers Week happen in 2018

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  • Carers UK new logo
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  • independent age
  • macmillan
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  • Which Elderly Care logo

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