This week we celebrate Carers Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don't think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
This year the aim of the week is to Make Caring Visible and Valued.
It has been a busy year at Devon Partnership Trust, Ian Henwood, Together Lead provides a summary of some of the work we have done:
Carers, Family and Friends Quality Improvement Project
We wanted to address significant themes that arose from Root Cause Analysis reports highlighting that greater involvement or weight be given to the view of the carer (or other professionals such as GP) and this may have significantly changed the decision making in the carer pathway. It covered:
Here are some specific examples of what was achieved:
We have developed a carer feedback form, which will be added to the website.
Friends and families group Langdon
A co-produced Friends and Families steering group has been set up at Langdon, Dawlish to promote carers. Work has started to reinforce the Triangle of Care and a quick confidentiality guide poster has been written to put next to phones with a guide to what information can always be given to carers and families.
Carer feedback from COVID survey
We promoted a survey last year for both people using services and carers on what their experiences with our services were before and during the COVID pandemic. Generally, the feedback from carers was positive.
Working carers in our organisation
It is estimated that 1 in 5 people working in the NHS are carers. Under the NHS People Plan there is an ambition to support working carers to balance their caring role with their work. Many people haven’t identified themselves as carers to their managers, but we are trying to encourage people to ‘bring their whole selves’ to work. We would encourage having conversations as to how work can be adjusted (such as flexible hours) to accommodate their caring role. Guidance is currently being prepared for managers as to what flexibility could be on offer, along with developing a carers passport. There is a working group that has been formed to progress this ambition.
Community Mental Health Framework
Carers are helping to co-produce the new Community Mental Health Framework which promotes strengths-based person-centred care to include carers/families in an integrated co-ordinated system. Care will be holistic, needs led, and will include the voluntary and third sector organisations as part of a broader offer to people. There will be multi agency teams working in localities and will be closely linked with GPs.
To celebrate Carers Week, we worked alongside Catherine Hill, Lead Practitioner at Devon Carers and asked Carer Ambassadors to let us know some of things that have kept them well during the last year.
"Music is my medicine. When I'm needing to decompress I love nothing more than pulling out my guitar and letting it speak for me!" - Duncan, Carer
"I walk with our two collies. Their joy lifts my spirits." - Fiona, Carer
"Giving a friend a call keeps me connected and having the support of someone outside immediate family helps me keep my sense of humour and sanity! Making time to do something nice for myself: a bath, condition my hair, allow pamper time, walk in the fresh air without any time restrictions, listen to music. What keeps me well is vitamin tablets, sunshine, gardening I often write a list of positive things to look forward to, things that I have overcome or just something to aim that's small - read another chapter of a book." - Heather, Carer
Winnie, Chair of Honiton Carers Support Group and Devon Carers Ambassador said: "Staying in weekly touch has been a life saver. Zooming has taught us all a different skill. Daily walk keeps me grounded. Good diet and food I enjoy and look forward to feels like a treat. Having a heart to heart with my bestie keeps sane. Peer support has been everything throughout lock-down. Community spirit and support has been incredible and very inspiring during lock-down. People have gone above and beyond during lock-down. The weekly NHS clapping brought our road together. The joy of being able to meet up again outdoors was indescribable."
Ian Henwood, Together Lead, said: "When I was a carer my escape to wellbeing was building Meccano models. I am fortunate to have a large collection and am able to make the brass parts myself in my workshop, working to tolerances of a few thousands of an inch (which brought on other challenges)! I have built a 7 section lorry mounted telescopic crane that extends to 12ft, a helical escalator, a working fruit machine that makes annual appearances at our village fete (it's not gambling as you seldom win), a windmill that stands 6ft high with all of the workings inside, and a Meccano mechanical computer that solves 2nd order mathematical differential equations which draws a graph as the solution. It was quite a handy hobby as it could be picked up or dropped to suit around caring needs."
Staff at Langdon in Dawlish are organising a day of activities on Wednesday, including guided grounds walk with a picnic, carer-hosted workshop session, information display boards, afternoon tea in Dewnans Chelsea garden.
Devon Carers have a full programme of online events running throughout the week, from yoga to musical theatre. Find out more about their Carers Week timetable.