The main issues
Most of Manchester’s carers are not known, for example to social care services. Yet many of them make planned or unplanned hospital visits, either with the person they care for or for themselves. So hospital teams are strongly placed to:
- help identify carers and link them to the information and support available
- involve carers as care partners, from a patient’s admission through to discharge
What’s in place already
- The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Carers Charter from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, are just two of the commitments being made to carers under health/care devolution
- Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust (MFT) have working groups on carers, aiming to address carers issues both as visitors/patients and as NHS employees
- there are also local and national resources to help hospitals engage with carers
What you need to know
Each time an inpatient or outpatient arrives, if they have a long-term condition, disability or life-limiting illness, the chances are they have a family member or friend who is their carer. The carer is likely to have a good knowledge of the person, their behaviour, what makes them feel better or worse, etc.
Sometimes the patient is a carer themselves. So it’s important to check who they are looking after at home and if necessary contact other services.
By involving the carer, evidence shows that outcomes can be improved both for the patient and for the carer and wider family – eg see John’s Campaign http://johnscampaign.org.uk/
Things you should or could be doing
- raise awareness of carers and carers issues with your patients and carers – there are so many ways to do this and posters, leaflets, display screens, events, and conversations are just some of them
- agree how you will identify carers on the ward/department and have a way of keeping track
- raise awareness of carers and carers issues with your staff teams
- ensure clinicians are involving carers in patient care
- get someone on your ward to be the Carers’ Champion – a great way to keep carers issues at the forefront, and could be the main point of contact with carers and with colleagues
- refer carers to the organisations in Manchester Carers Network – or do it via this website click here
Carers also value things like flexible visiting times, free or low-cost car parking and being ‘kept in the loop’. There is much more in the resources below.