Pair strive to ensure carers of those who are mentally ill have the right support
- Credit: NSFT
Two carers' leads who ensure people who care for someone with a mental health problem receive dedicated support have spoken of the enjoyment they get from helping people.
During Carers' Week this week Jill Curtis and Pip Everett are talking about their roles working for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's (NSFT) teams in Norfolk north, south and city.
They have an instrumental role in helping push carers higher up the agenda at NSFT, as well as driving the Triangle of Care programme, which looks in detail at the support offered to carers and the steps taken to include them in decisions about care across the trust.
The trust was awarded a gold star by the Carers' Trust in recognition of its commitment to carers and making sure they are fully supported and involved in decisions about care, and was one of only 18 NHS trusts in England to achieve the first stage of the Triangle of Care.
'Our role has lots of different elements,' said Ms Curits.
'Above all, we act as an advocate for carers and will listen, respond to queries, signpost people to other sources of support and go out and meet people to see what we can do to help.
'I love my job. I like seeing staff's interest change as they become more involved. And I like working in the Recovery College, which provides courses and workshops to service users, carers and staff, as it gives us the chance to share information in a different way.
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'I feel that it is vital for us to look after carers. They play an absolutely key role and help take some pressure off statutory services, such as those we provide. That is why it is so important for us to invest in their wellbeing and offer them whatever support they need.'
As part of NSFT's Improving Services Together initiative, the pair are helping services collate evidence detailing how they involve carers in treatment and decisions about their loved ones.
To try and reach 'hidden carers', who are people who may not consider themselves to be carers, they are organising pop-up events at community venues. They are also co-producing a questionnaire which services will use to gain feedback about what they have done well and areas where they could further improve.
They have also attended a range of different groups to promote ways for carers to feedback their views to the trust.
'I have always believed in supporting carers and working together wherever possible,' said Ms Everett. 'They are a very valuable resource and experts in their own right.
'No-one puts their hand up and asks to be unwell, and equally no-one asks to be a carer. It's often a position which people find themselves in, without choice ad without being asked. And there's no manual showing the rights and wrongs of how to care for someone. But through information and education, carers can be given the tools of how to support their loved ones as well as looking after themselves.
'From my own caring experience, I understand the importance and value of being involved in your loved one's care. At times when carers can feel isolated and overwhelmed, having someone to talk to and listen to their experiences can make situations a little more manageable.
'As all of our work is co-produced with carers, we would like to say a big thank-you to the carers who have given their time and supported us to improve services and drive change.'
• If you are a carer or know a carer who would like to work alongside the duo, you can contact them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
• For more on working in care, see our special supplement in your EDP on June 20.