A pilot scheme to better involve carers whose loved ones are patients at Walsall Manor Hospital, and at the Stroke Rehabilitation Unit at Hollybank House, has started this week.
“Partners in Care” is an initiative being run through The Family and Carers Support Service at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and it aims to ensure carers are recognised and supported to continue their role as and how they wish.
The pilot scheme is running across seven hospital wards and at Hollybank House in the community. It is planned to be rolled out across the whole Trust by October.
A carer is anyone, children or adults, who looks after a family member, partner, or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.
This does not have to be the patient’s next of kin. It is hoped Partners in Care will help those being cared for to feel safer in an unfamiliar place, such as a busy hospital ward or unit.
Staff will discuss the following with the patient’s carer, once confirmed:
- What care do you usually give at home?
- Have you been trained in delivering care?
- What do you feel you are able or not able to do?
- Is there any special equipment that could be brought in to support the patient?
Garry Perry, Associate Director – Patient Relations and Experience, said: “Carers play a vital role in the lives of our patients and no-one knows our patients better.
“We want to acknowledge this while also supporting carers to continue their role while the patient is in our care if they want to do so.
“We know a hospital can be a frightening environment and can make patients anxious, so having their carer involved can help in many cases.
“We will see how the pilot goes before considering feedback, with a view to rolling it out across the whole Trust over the coming weeks and thank all patients and carers who have worked with us so far.”
Andrew Rice, Patient Experience and Voluntary Services Manager, said patients able to give consent would be asked if they wanted their carer to continue to support them while under the Trust’s care.
“Our staff will ensure carers feel comfortable and safe on a ward, or in a unit, and establish the level of care they can provide,” said Andrew.
“This will be around mealtimes and supporting with washing/bathing for example and helping staff to understand their likes and dislikes. We will also involve carers in our efforts to prevent falls if the patient is at risk.
“Carers will be given a lanyard to access the ward during their time spent supporting the patient and we will also work with them to complete a Carers’ Passport that is recorded on our systems and will help us to identify any additional help they may need, now or in the future.”
Zoe Christoffersen, Family and Carers’ Support Officer, has been visiting all the pilot areas to introduce Partners in Care and to help staff identify, recognise and support unpaid carers.
She said: “We’re really proud to have developed this approach to better involve carers in healthcare which will result in better outcomes for our patients, enhance their experience at the Trust and assist our staff.
“Carers have the choice of whether to be involved, and at what level, and we also understand and appreciate the important role of young carers who will also be involved as much as possible.
“Equally, if a carer chooses to use the time that the person they are supporting is in hospital to rest in readiness for their return we will support that too.”
If patients are unable to give consent or have power of attorney in place, staff will share information in line with the current legislation and will also agree an appropriate level of carer involvement, always acting in the best interests of the patient.