Wathwood Hospital Carers Initiative
The Beginning – Wathwood Hospital provides medium secure inpatient services for male adult patients. The hospital has 78 beds, 56 of which are located within the main hospital with 22 in The Lodges. https://rebrand.ly/Wathwood-Hospital They offer assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation. Their aim is to reduce the distress associated with mental health problems and promote recovery. Wathwood is in its own grounds surrounded by lovely, open countryside and woods in South Yorkshire. The four wards allow a gradual progression so that patients can develop life skills and move forward with their lives. The focus of the hospital is recovery. Wathwood opened in 1996. The hospital quickly realised that providing holistic care meant involving carers and families. Carers have their own needs, anxieties and worries but also a wealth of experience to offer. They are integral in helping professionals to provide quality care by shaping our services through their involvement.
The Triangle of Care guide was launched in July 2010 to include and recognise carers as partners in care. https://rebrand.ly/TriangleofCare It sets out standards and resources to support mental health service providers to ensure that carers are fully included and supported when the person they care for is admitted into hospital. This benefits carers, patients, and staff.
Wathwood Carers Initiative. In January 2002 a staff group set up a carers initiative. From this meeting, it was agreed that a range of opportunities for the involvement of carers and their families would be beneficial to patient care, as well as providing support for carers during difficult times. Wathwood believes that involving carers makes a positive difference to a patient’s progress and supports carers and families too at the same time.
This initiative grew into Carer Forums which were set up to meet on a Saturday morning four times a year.
The Carer Forums provide
A safe place for carers to meet each other and hospital staff
A place to share experience and views, and to learn more about the hospital and mental health.
A place to evaluate each forum, receive and share feedback and improve our services.
Carers comments about the forum
“this plays a huge part in being made to feel part of my relatives care and in being involved”
“it was the first time to be included, involved, and informed and so already, I feel empowered”
“the carers forum is brilliant and makes me feel supported”.
Forums include a variety of guest speakers with support and information on many subjects. Over time, carers have taken more of a lead role in organising the forums. This includes involvement in steering groups, working in collaboration with staff.
Presentations have been made by a variety of different staff and teams such as the Primary Health Care Team, Consultants, Occupational Therapists, Cognitive Behavioural Therapists, the Chaplaincy Service, Advocacy, and Psychology. By September 2013 the forums began to take more of a focus on education and information workshops. Workshops have included stress vulnerability, communication, problem solving and relapse prevention.
Carers commented “we found the workshops very interesting and helpful”.
“I enjoyed talking to other parents in a similar situation to myself”
New carers are offered a tour of the hospital with information about developments within the hospital and the Trust . Carers can meet with different professionals at the forum. The morning concludes with lunch where relatives get together with their loved one and share a meal in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
In the Summer, the Forum holds a BBQ (British Summer permitting!). At the Christmas Forum, carers enjoy a Christmas lunch and a photograph with their relative, something that many carers may not have been able to do for a long time. Two other forums take place during the year often with themed lunches. Carers tell us that the forum feels supportive. Carers nominated the forum for a Trust OSCAR – Outstanding Service Contribution and Recognition Scheme. The forum was a runner up in 2009 and more recently the Forum was nominated for Clinical Team of the Year Award 2020/21. Perhaps it will be 3rd time lucky next time?!
Reshaping our Service. Due to involvement from the carers forum and carer audits, changes have been made to services. Information is available in the hospital reception and in the library at carers requests. Carers asked for more forums however, we can’t offer more than 4 forums a year. We continued to listen to Carers and introduced a Coffee morning on the first Saturday of every month. Carers are given a voucher for free coffee and cake and the chance to meet other carers in our Courtyard Café in our outdoor horticulture area.
During COVID, our forums have been very different, still involving our carers despite not been able to visit the hospital. Regular phone calls and wellbeing packs are sent out to carers. More recently, virtual events via MS Teams have been offered. One carer reported they would not ordinarily be able to attend due to distance, but the virtual forum allowed them to join.
Wathwood feels it’s important to evaluate our services so a carers satisfaction evaluation was developed in 2004. The stages include admission, meeting staff, carers involvement, information, security, visits, and overall satisfaction. Positive changes have been reported from the results showing that carers feel more involved.
‘Our son was very happy at Wathwood so were we, his care was brilliant’
‘Staff will chat with me, which is very comforting at times, it helps the apprehension when visiting at difficult times’
‘I feel that other mental health units could benefit from the way the hospital treats carers. Most mental health units seem to regard us as people to be tolerated (at best) or nuisance (at worst). I have nothing but praise for Wathwood hospital’
‘There is simply no comparison to other hospitals my relative has been in. I feel he is recognised as an individual and he is given real support and understanding, the carer’s forum is brilliant and makes me feel supported as I am on my own. If the hospital was a hotel, I would give it at least four stars”
The Future. Wathwood continues to involve carers and we are continuously working to maintain the six standards of the Triangle of Care. The Triangle of Care and Carer Awareness training is mandatory for all staff at Wathwood. Carers have been involved by asking them what content they feel should be included in the training. In the future we hope to involve carers in the delivery. See Carers talking about their experiences at Wathwood
We have an identified Carers Lead and Carer Links for each ward. Their role is to act as an initial point of contact and to support named nurses in contacting carers. In future, the assessment ward plan to introduce a ‘meet and greet session for new carers to meet staff on their first visit and to ask questions about the hospital and receive information about the carers forums and support available.
Our carers links have been given the opportunity to take up Family Intervention Training. We are looking to this starting with quality training and supervision for all members of the team.
The future looks bright. We continue to involve, listen to and support carers. Wathwood Hospital prides itself in being a collaborative service working together with patients, professionals, and carers to maintain and develop high quality care and good practice.
Other publications form Wathwood Coping with Covid – Carers Link Team