Why should we care about carers?

by Paul Sanguinazzi – Head of Involvement and Experience

Paul’s job is to make sure the Trust listens to and works in partnership with our service users, patients, carers and members to shape and improve our services.

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Paul Sanguinazzi

Caring for someone you love who is ill can be rewarding but in giving so much it can also be an experience that leaves you isolated, frustrated and unsure who to turn to. Caring is often at great cost to a person’s health, relationships, finances and work.

Carers often support vulnerable, distressed people through difficult and sometimes traumatic times. The support they give to those they love helps to keep many people well and working with us can help our services to provide better care for those we provide services for.  Research almost three quarters (72%) of carers in the UK said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring, while well over half (61%) said their physical health had worsened.

Having had the privilege to work with many amazing carers over the last few years I have heard their stories of just how difficult caring can be and how difficult it can be to work with services if they are kept at a distance, not able to communicate with staff and unsure where to find information or support.

I don’t believe that we can claim to provide a caring, compassionate health service if we don’t work with carers to support our service users and if we don’t give support to carers so they don’t suffer both mental and physical ill health. We should care about and care for carers. We owe them big time for all they do including the estimated £132 billion they save the country every year for the caring they do.

This is why over the last few years we have been on a mission to create a carer friendly organisation at Nottinghamshire Healthcare. With the collective commitment of Trust staff, carers and local organisations we have:

  • changed culture and practice through staff induction and development programmes
  • raised awareness through innovative films, the carers section on the Trust website and increased social media presence
  • tackled issues that carers raised (e.g. information sharing)
  • supported and informed carers through guides, information, support groups and forums
  • ensured that all our 100 plus mental health teams have evidenced that they have improved their involvement of, support for and communication with carers by completing their Triangle of Care self-assessments.

It’s Carers Week this week (10-16th June) and the Trust wants to continue to improve how we support, involve and communicate with unpaid carers, families, friends and siblings of those we care for. There are over 6.5 million carers in the UK and more than 1.3 million of those carers provide over 50 hours care per week. We have made a pledge that all our teams will connect carers and families to information, advice and support from our services and in our communities. We expect every team in the Trust to:

  • improve how they support, involve and communicate with carers by meeting the six Triangle of Care standards
  • let carers know about organisations and information that can help them as carers in their local community
  • listen and respond to what carers have to say about our services.

We want to continue the work staff, carers and carer organisations have been doing over the last few years. This resulted in the Trust being awarded two gold stars from the Carers Trust as part of their national Triangle of Care (ToC) programme as well a Patient Experience Network National Award in March 2019 for our work to involve and support carers, in the ‘Support for Caregivers, Friends and Family’ category. Here is our presentation at the event.

One of our carers said: “The impact of the work Notts Healthcare has done and continues to do is immense and has made a huge difference to the way carers’ needs are recognised and addressed. It has made me, as a carer feel valued. Thank you.”

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