Introducing the Carers passport
Hospital chiefs are launching a passport for carers so that they can get involved in all aspects of their loved ones’ treatment and care. The move comes after new figures released this week show that more than 600 people a day quit careers because of the demands of caring for a loved one. The study, by Carers UK, has revealed that 15% of the working population is "now working and caring".
The scheme is being piloted by South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts on two care of the elderly wards - one at South Tyneside District Hospital and one at Sunderland Royal Hospital - and on the Acute Stroke Unit at the Royal, which cares for patients from both areas. The credit card-sized passport, worn on a lanyard, identifies carers to staff and enables them to: · visit outside normal hours, including overnight, with the agreement of the ward manager · help the patient with eating and drinking · be actively involved in the patient’s care and planning for discharge.
To accompany their passport ‘badge’, carers are given a special folder in which to keep useful leaflets with information relevant to the patient’s care and a guide to the various support and advice organisations available in South Tyneside and Sunderland, as well as nationally. Also included is a ‘This is me’ document containing details such as the patient’s likes and dislikes and the name by which they like to be called. This can be shown to staff to help them to respond to patients’ individual needs and provide more person centred care. The Carers UK report estimates that almost five million people are caring or loved ones while juggling a career. This is a rise of around three million since 2011.
Julie McDonald, deputy director of nursing, said: “Our staff recognise the great value and importance of carers and we are strongly committed to supporting and working in partnership with them in order to ensure that we can provide the highest quality and most effective care possible. A stay in hospital can be a confusing, even frightening, experience. Our staff are experts in healthcare but it is the carers who are experts in the individual, personal needs of their loved ones. "Making it easier for them to have as much access as possible to support the patient’s personal wellbeing throughout a hospital stay can make medical treatment more effective, leading to improved outcomes.”
Using feedback from carers and staff involved in the pilot areas, it is hoped that the Carer Passport can eventually be rolled out in all in-patient areas at South Tyneside District Hospital, Sunderland Royal Hospital and Sunderland Eye Infirmary. The initiative follows on from South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts’ pledges of support for the national John’s Campaign, a movement to help NHS staff recognise the importance of working with carers as equal partners in the care and support of people with a dementia who are in hospital.