The Carers Star helps services to assess carers’ quality of life and identify the support they need to continue caring. It also supports services to capture and evidence outcomes for carers and to engage carers in the process of change. Part of the family of Outcomes Star tools, it’s a tried and tested framework to assist services and commissioners in supporting carers more effectively.
How it works
The Carers Star is a holistic and collaborative tool, designed for use in services that support carers one-to-one over a period of time. It covers seven areas where carers often need support, including confidence in their caring role, balancing caring with work or time to relax, and finances.
Underpinning these scales is a ‘Journey of Change’ – five stages carers go through as they improve their lives, moving from ‘cause for concern’ up to ‘as good as it can be’. This gives a measure of progress, or distance travelled, and a set of manageable steps carers can take to become more independent.
Workers in services that support carers (both third sector and public sector) use the Carers Star at assessment and subsequent reviews to find out where a carer is on their journey and to plan appropriate actions to help them move up each scale.
All workers using the Carers Star need appropriate training and support to realise the benefits described below for commissioners, services and carers.
The Carers Star helps local authority commissioners fulfil the requirements of the Care Act by providing a framework for effective assessment, action planning and review, combined with the ability to measure the impact of interventions in a way that is clear to everyone. It also supports services in undertaking preventative work with carers.
Carers Star data is easily collated using the Star Online web application or other IT systems, so services can report on outcomes for carers, examining both the big picture and the detail. Reports cover the key outcomes of interest to commissioners, using a consistent format and facilitating learning across different services.
Because the Carers Star is an integral part of assessment, support, planning and review, it doesn’t divert valuable resources from direct work with carers, making it popular with both workers and the people they support. It can also help improve the quality and consistency of support provided.
“Not only is this a useful tool for assessment and identification of needs, its use over time can demonstrate to commissioners that they are getting the right outcomes from the services they fund.”
Department of Health Green Paper, 2009
Workers and carers like the Star because it is simple to use, highly visual, holistic and focused on the reality of carers’ lives. Because it is collaborative, carers are engaged in their own process, rather than assessment being something ‘done to them’.
The completed Star gives a clear picture of carers’ needs and where they are on their journey, and helps to break change down into manageable steps so that support is more effective and better targeted.
For service managers, the collated Carers Star data provides information on carer outcomes to pinpoint good practice, gaps in provision or areas for improvement. Aggregated data can be used to compare services, and is also helpful in worker supervision.
Carers complete the Carers Star in collaboration with a worker and plot their scores on a visual of the Carers Star, allowing them to see clearly where they are on their journey. The worker can then help the carer plan which areas to address and how.
At later meetings, worker and carer re-visit the Carers Star and get a clear picture of the progress that has been made and identify any further support needs.
Tried, tested and recommended
The Carers Star was developed by Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise in collaboration with Carers Trust and other carer organisations. Carers Trust secured funding from the Triangle Trust 1949 to develop a subsidised programme to roll out the adoption of the Carers Star across the The Carers Trust Network.
Outcomes Stars are widely used in the UK by voluntary organisations large and small, housing associations, NHS Foundation Trusts and local authorities, and have been backed by the Department of Health, the Big Lottery, NESTA, the National Social Inclusion Programme, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the London Housing Foundation, Homeless Link and the Mental Health Providers Forum, among others.
International interest in the Outcomes Star is also growing and it is used in several countries around the world.
The Outcomes Star™ is a family of tools for supporting and measuring change when working with people. For more information, see www.outcomesstar.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7272 8765.
Carers Trust is a key collaborator on the Carers Star. For more information contact Carers Trust.