A new NHS mental health Trust Carers charter has been developed to make sure carers and families are fully involved in their loved one’s care and treatment from day one with their knowledge and experience of the patient taken into account.
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), which provides mental health and learning disabilities services in County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and most of North Yorkshire, developed the carers charter with the Trust’s Carers Working Group. The group brings together carers on a regular basis to talk about carers’ needs and to see where improvements can be made to better support and work with carers to help provide more effective care.
The charter encourages carers and staff to work together and support one another to provide the best possible care. It lists a range of commitments that carers can expect from staff when involved in the care and treatment of their relative or friend. This includes making sure carers are involved in decision making about care and treatment, receive information about services and have the opportunity to help develop personalised care plans.
The charter highlights how a carer can support the Trust by sharing their knowledge and experience of the patient’s condition. In addition, the charter asks carers to share their own experiences and feelings to make sure Trust staff can support their health and wellbeing and it commits to providing a named contact to talk to about the patient’s care and the carer’s needs.
Many carers support people who currently use Trust services or who have done so in the past. These unpaid carers range from children and young people to adults and older people who care for family members or friends who need their support.
Staff on inpatient wards and in community teams across the Trust area receive carers awareness training to help them work with and support carers, understand their needs and involve carers in patient care. This training is developed with carers’ input and often co-delivered by carers. The new Carers charter will form part of Trust staff training and will be displayed on wards and community services areas across the Trust.
Elizabeth Moody, director of nursing and governance at TEWV, said
“As well as making sure we care for our patients, it is vitally important that we also support the wellbeing of those who care for them.
“We want to help carers feel able to cope with caring. Being a carer can be a challenging role which entails a mix of emotions, unique and individual to the carer. As well as being busy caring for someone else, carers have the rest of their daily lives to go about and this can be tough and demanding.
“Our Carers Working Group wanted the carers charter to set out the key areas staff should consider, and carers can expect, when it comes to involving carers inpatient care and also to develop better-integrated service that meets the needs of everyone.
“It is so important that we find out who a patient’s carers are from the outset so we can involve them in the care and treatment plan from day one and make sure their views on care are regularly discussed and treatment plans explained; also so we can offer carers one-to-one support to assess their needs and refer to support services where appropriate. Carers are provided with information when we first meet them and we also have a Carers Champion member of staff in each of our wards and community teams to support carers and help staff recognise and develop an awareness of carers needs and an inclusive approach for carers and families.”
Carers in the working group agreed that they hope the charter would give carers a voice in the care and treatment of their relatives and that staff recognise the essential long-term role carers play and work together with them while understanding that carers need support too.
The Trust is a member of the UK’s Carers Trust Triangle of Care membership scheme which recognises carers as key partners in the planning and provision of mental health care. The new Carers charter fully supports the Triangle of Care approach to encourage better collaboration and partnership with carers.
“Carers and families should be seen as partners in how we provide care. They often know the person best and pick up on subtle changes which can help us understand their loved one. We know that carers and families need clear information about their loved one’s care in order to provide the safest and best care. This is not always possible, due to service user choice, but we can always listen to carers and be clear about what we can talk about.
“It was great to see the carers in the Carers Working Group developing the carers charter – they are the right people to know what carers need and want, and used their own personal experiences to support the many other carers across the Trust.”
If you care for someone receiving care and treatment from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and would like to get involved in helping the Trust develop further support for carers, please contact Anthea Motson, carer experience officer on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about support for carers please visit www.tewv.nhs.uk/services/support-tewv-support-for-carers/