A Carers’ Passport is being developed by the Patient Experience Team at Walsall Manor Hospital aimed at ensuring those who have caring responsibilities are recognised, supported and involved within healthcare services.
The passport approach is being developed in response to feedback – nationally as well as locally – that carers find it difficult to find information and advice and navigate the sometimes complex processes within the NHS and social care. If they are better supported this also impacts positively on the person they are caring for as well as health professionals involved in the person’s care.
Matthew Hill, Patient Relations & Experience Support Officer with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust explained: “Many carers struggle to have their role recognised by health and care professionals. This has a negative impact on the patient, but can also affect the carer’s own health and wellbeing.
“By introducing a Carers’ Passport – which may be represented by a card or a badge – we hope to encourage more people to tell us that they have caring responsibilities so we can set out the support, services or benefits that we can offer. Many people don’t see themselves as carers; they tend to “get on with things” and we also want to show our appreciation and acknowledgment of the vital role they play in our communities.”
Matthew said the Carers’ Passport, which is currently being developed with staff, will initially be trialled within Walsall Manor Hospital but the intention is to eventually use it across the trust’s community services too.
He added: “Carers know the person they are supporting better than anyone and their knowledge and experience should be valued and used to inform the best care and outcomes for patients. That’s our ambition here in Walsall.
“We believe the passport approach will also raise awareness of the financial and emotional difficulties faced by carers. It is not uncommon, for example, for carers to spend £100 per week on hospital parking when their Carer’s Allowance doesn’t cover this. And we know that carers don’t prioritise their own health and wellbeing needs when sometimes just a few small interventions could make such a difference to them.”
The passport will explain what the carer can expect from hospital staff (the ‘offer’ to them), in accordance with the NHS Constitution’s commitment to carers being involved and consulted in the care and treatment of their family member or friend.
If a trial proves successful the passport will be adopted across all ward areas and departments before connecting with community teams and services.