Caring for our carers

Posted on in Staff, Support groups, The trust

Karen Harwood, left, and Beth Swanson at the Carers Launch event

Karen Harwood, left, and Beth Swanson at the Carers Launch event

We’re making positive changes to strengthen the care and support given to healthcare’s unsung heroes – carers.

Across the UK, an estimated 6.5million people are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill in hospital and it is a role valued – and recognised – by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

One of our actions is to ensure that our staff are fully prepared and empowered and understand the role of carers and how the support we give to carers can lead to better outcomes for both the patient and the carer.

Already we encourage staff to offer when possible more flexible visiting times and increased access to the wards for carers; staff being empowered and supported to make local adjustments will support and improve our patient and carer experience.

While the foundations have been laid, the organisation is keen to highlight and raise awareness of the contribution carers’ make on a day-to-day basis and how we can support them – both with nursing staff and carers themselves.

Next week we will be hosting a number of carer drop-in events across South Tees to celebrate their role and contribution at:

  • The James Cook University Hospital – Monday 8 February – 10am-3pm
  • Friarage Hospital – Wednesday 10 February – 10am-1pm
  • Community hospitals – Thursday 11 February (staff visiting different sites during the day)
Karen Ainsworth, left, dementia education lead and Gill Hunt, director of nursing

Karen Ainsworth, left, dementia education lead and Gill Hunt, director of nursing

The events will include the promotion of carers’ information cards which reflect a host of information for carers, which is also available on the trust’s website, and various stands offering support and advice.

Head of patient and carer engagement Karen Harwood said: “While this is an opportunity to highlight the important role carers’ have – and share the work we’ve already done to support them when their loved ones are in hospital – there is still more we can do to improve both patient and carer experience and outcomes.

“Even the smallest adjustments can make a massive impact to people, like welcoming carers onto our wards and departments outside normal visiting hours and signposting carers to the different carers support agencies and local authorities which can offer both emotional and financial support.”

The trust’s commitment to carers has been praised by John’s Campaign, which is promoting the right for carers (particularly family) to stay with a person with dementia if they are admitted to hospital.

Co-campaigner Nicci Gerrard (better known under her author pseudonym Nicci French) said: “John’s campaign wholeheartedly congratulates South Tees Hospitals on the dynamic and compassionate way they are welcoming carers into wards and recognising them as valuable members of the team of support around a patient.

“With its commitment to supporting carers, South Tees Trust becomes a pioneer in the growing movement towards the person-centred, relationship-centred care of all those who are vulnerable and in need.  Bravo!”