Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) is working with local carers to understand their experiences and improve services for people in the future.
The Trust is celebrating National Carer’s Week (June 8-14) which is focused on the theme ‘Making Carers Visible’.
In Lancashire alone, there is an estimated 138,000 carers that look after a friend or family member who depend on them for their own wellbeing and the Trust is linking in with as many as possible to get feedback, ideas and suggested for how services can be improved.
Colin Taylor, is one of many amazing individuals working with the Trust. He has been a carer for his son who suffers with Asperger’s Syndrome for the last 12 years..
He said: “My son has Asperger’s, which is part of the autism spectrum. His condition manifested and problems started when he reached puberty. He is now 27 and the last 12 years have been a roller coaster of a journey, centred around frustration and stress. A lot of this stress coming from a mental health and social care system which is difficult to understand and navigate. Getting help for our son was hindered because once he reached 18 he has to give permissions for our involvement in his treatment plans.
“Myself and my wife, who I also care for, were left going round and round in circles after several crisis incidents with our son. We were at breaking point. We sought help at Blackpool Carers centre, which turned out to be the most beneficial and supportive move we made. We were offered empathy, support and advised on pathways to navigate the health system by their fantastic staff. They saved us from an abyss. We also met other carers with similar difficulties, we found friendship, mutual support and benefitted from sharing our experiences. Carers roles can differ, but many share similarities, such as their experiences and value are often very underestimated and ignored, leading to feelings of undervalue and insignificance.
“As a result of our experiences at the carers centre, I have become involved with several groups such as Rethink Mental Health, attending seminars and having one to one meetings with LSCFT managers, all focused on delivering an improved mental health service with a support inclusive strategy for carers.”
Dawn Brindle, Patient Experience Manager at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“I have the privilege of working with unpaid carers and listening to their experiences of using our services as part of my role. I greatly appreciate their time, honesty and willingness to share their thoughts, which makes a real difference to our services. As an unpaid carer myself, I understand the importance of being heard.
“The Trust joined the Carers Trust Triangle of Care membership scheme in March 2018, and by doing so committed to changing the culture of our organisation to one that is carer inclusive and supportive. We do this by completing self-assessments for all services in partnership with carers to identify quality improvements to improve experiences of care. As a result of this, we have dedicated Carers Champions throughout our inpatient services, developed standard carer information boards and worked with carers services to deliver ‘carer awareness’ training to our staff.
“I want to thank Colin, and all the other amazing carers who give up their valuable time to get involved in a range of the Trust’s activities. If you want to get involved you can contact the Experience Team on email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01772 773489.”
For carers support in Lancashire, please contact Carers Lancashire on 0345 688 7113. For carers support in South Cumbria, please contact Carers Support Cumbria on 0844 384 3230.