Carers Week 2024: Putting Carers on the Map

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 10th June, 2024

Putting Carers on the Map graphicThe theme for Carers Week 2024 (Monday 10 to Sunday 16 June) is 'Putting Carers on the Map'.

Millions of people across the UK care for a friend or family member, unpaid, helping those with an illness, disability, mental health condition or addiction who cannot cope without their support.

It is estimated that our army of carers saves the economy £162 million a year – the equivalent of a second NHS. Yet, many carers feel their role is forgotten and invisible, which is why Carers Week is a vital reminder to acknowledge and celebrate their compassion and commitment. We must care for our carers because we may all need their help one day.

Carers Week is a nationwide awareness campaign seeking to increase visibility for carers with decision makers, services, employers, communities, and businesses.

We spoke to Joanna Duke, Together and Carer Lead, about the work that has been recently happening across the organisation to Put Carers on the Map: “Earlier this year, we launched the reviewed Carers’ Strategy 2024-2027 and held a celebration event in April to thank carers, carer community organisations, Devon Carers and Torbay Carers, and colleagues for their invaluable contributions to this far reaching review.

                      People enjoying nibbles at the Carers Strategy launch event Carers Strategy next to red tulips

“To monitor and support the implementation of the Carers’ Strategy, we established the Carers’ Strategy Implementation Steering Group, co-chaired with a carer, to work alongside our teams and keep a close eye on the three-year implementation plan. We also reengaged with the Triangle of Care and our inpatient teams completed self-assessments to identify areas of good practice and gaps in supporting and involving carers. The wards then contributed to a Carers Trust report which was awarded and retained Triangle of Care Star 1, recognising our teams’ commitment to improving carers’ experience - leading to better patient outcomes. Our next step is to work with community teams to introduce and embed the Triangle of Care as a standard practice.”

The Carers Trust provided positive feedback on the report’s submission: “Thank you for submitting your annual report for Triangle of Care star 1. It has been a pleasure to read such a thorough narrative of the Triangle of Care in recent years. There has been a lot of energy from the teams to reinstate and reinvigorate Triangle of Care to support a culture of collaboration and partnership and as referenced in your report, by understanding that barriers prevent carer partnership and obstruct a culture of collaboration.”

Joanna Duke continued: “With invaluable support from George Adams, Clinical Lead in Safe from Suicide, and Laura Lewis, Quality Improvement Manager, we have supported the organic growth of the Carer Champions network across Devon and recently established a Community of Practice to create opportunities for sharing good practice, learning from each other, hearing from carers about what makes a difference and to work collaboratively to ensure our vision for carers runs throughout the organisation.”

We have involved carers in key discussions and projects. These include the implementation of the Community Mental Health Framework and reviewing its impact, review of psychology service, implementation of the Patient Serious Incident Response Framework, delivery of carer awareness training, Stronger Together training, the Personalised Care Framework, interviews, staff induction and many more.”

Feedback has included:

  • “So great to have dedicated time to focus on carers with colleagues from lots of different wards. Nice location too.” – Carer Champion
  • “Good to find out what others are doing.” – Carer Champion
  • “It does feel like a change in tide and a genuine care and respect for family and carers” - Carer
  • “As a retired person my involvement in Together, amongst other things, gives my life purpose and structure which is an important element to ageing well. I have long been passionate about mental health, particularly Forensic Psychiatric Services. As a carer I have carried a lot of anger at not having my voice listened to. Together gives me the opportunity to be involved in changing the culture within mental health services, advocating for more support and active listening to those in a caring role.” – Expert by Experience

Ian Henwood, Together Associate Director, added his personal thoughts about the renewed recognition of Carers’ invaluable role: "My personal reflection is that there is a new energy and enthusiasm for implementing the revised carer strategy. This has been evident at the strategy celebration event and the community of practice meetings for example. Energy and enthusiasm from both carers, staff, and other stakeholders such as Devon Carers and Torbay Carers. Close collaborative working with Devon Carers and Torbay Carers has made a huge difference for example in the design and delivery of carer awareness training for our staff.

"It was also gratifying to note that the original aims of the Carer Strategy developed in 2017 were still valid in 2024. The value of carer involvement in both care and in-service development and monitoring is now being recognised.”

Joanna Duke concluded by commenting on the team’s ongoing work and future celebrations: “During Carers Week, we will be reviewing our Carers’ Charter with carers and partners. Let us know how you plan to celebrate carers and help Put Carers on the Map. We would love to hear from you!”

You can visit the Devon Carers website for a list of events and information stands that they will be offering across the county for Carers Week 2024.