Hat’s off to Carers

This week  12 – 19 June is National Carers Week so let’s pause for a minute and take our hats off to carers for the amazing support they give people who use services, for their unstinting focus on the needs of the people they care for 24/7, 365 days a year, let’s take our hats off to the sacrifices they have made, lost holidays and evenings out, sometimes having to give up work or change jobs or having to leave education and let’s take our hats off to the savings carers make in this country to the cost of health and social care whilst remembering the impact of caring on both physical and mental health. I think we can all agree that carers are incredible people who are motivated by love to do the best they can for the person they care for.

The Trust is holding its annual Carers Listening Event on 15 June (contact: kathryn.hill@slam.nhs.uk) and the theme this year is Putting Carers at the Heart of Quality Improvement and we are hoping that at the end of the day we have lots of ideas on how we can all work together to improve the carers experience of the services the Trust provide. We don’t need to wait until the write up though as we already know some things carers have told us would help them:

  • Improved communication, such as. carers information packs, improved notice boards and signage and ward/team business cards.
  • Improving the experience of carers when they visit a ward, such as regular provision of refreshments, access to a visiting room, flexible visiting hours, a named nurse, and an admission checklist which includes if the patient has given consent for information to be shared.

  • Involvement in care and treatment; such as involving carers in the care and treatment of their loved one, by invitations to attend the ward round/CPA Meetings, care planning and discharge meetings, offering face to face appointments with the ward doctors, being given a copy of the care plan and involvement in discharge planning.
  • Supporting the carer;. setting up a carer’s forum, setting up a carers’ peer support group, supporting carers to give feedback through the FFT and offering confidentiality training.

The trust is also aware that more formal support systems are important such as a formal Carers Assessment under the Care Act 2014 and to raise awareness of carers’ needs and to help staff to engage and support carers, we have introduced a new ‘Carers’ Engagement and Support Plan’. This is a short form, based on national standards of best practice with carers in mental health services, which makes sure that carers are given relevant information on the mental health problems the person they are caring for is experiencing, advice on what support is available and who to contact in a crisis. It also prompts staff to make sure that the carer has information on the roles of the professionals involved and that he or she is offered education and support. If the carer needs a full assessment of their needs, then a carers’ assessment under the Care Act will be accessed.’

There are many wonderful staff in the Trust who are dedicated to supporting carers and they do this by having a listening ear, offering a compassionate hug and an empathic approach particularly when situations arise when what the person who uses services wants and what the carers want cannot be reconciled. and this is something that does not require training or a course but it makes such a difference and is something we can all do when we meet carers.

So let’s take our hats off to all our carers every day and not just once a year.

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