Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys (TEWV) NHS FT has developed a new carers charter to make sure carers and families are fully involved in their loved one’s care and treatment from the start, taking into account their knowledge and experience of the patient.
The trust developed the charter with their Carers Working Group, bringing carers together on a regular basis to talk about carers’ needs and to see where improvements can be made to better support and work with carers.
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 staff can support their health and wellbeing, as well as committing to provide a named contact to talk to about the patient’s care and the carer’s needs.
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.
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.
“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 in patient care and also to develop a better integrated service that meets the needs of everyone.”
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 charter will form part of trust staff training and will be displayed on wards and community services areas across the trust.
Carers in the working group said they hoped the charter would give carers a voice in the care and treatment of their relatives, and that staff would recognise the essential long-term role carers play, whilst understanding carers needs too.
Ms Moody added: “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.”