Carers Week 2020: How to get involved with shaping our services

Posted: 08/06/20

Elderly carer sitting with two of her patients in the care home. They are enjoying some cake and tea.

Patients and carers are being encouraged to make their voice heard and get involved with shaping Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health and learning disability services.

This week (8-14 June) is Carers Week, with this year’s theme being a call to ‘Make Caring Visible’. Our Patient and Carer Involvement Team are spreading the word about how they involve patients and carers to make sure they are visible and heard at all levels of the Trust’s work.

Our Trust recognises and values the contribution of patients and carers. We know that involving patients, carers and their families in making decisions about their care can help to make their journey to recovery an easier and more positive experience.

The Patient and Carer Involvement Team co-ordinate and facilitate this at every level of the Trust’s work, including getting patient and carer representation on interview panels when the Trust is recruiting staff, and in consultations so that they can shape the design of future services.

We are always looking for more service users and carers with experience of our services to get in touch with us. Our team will ensure the right training and support is provided for anyone wishing to get involved, and ensure they can maintain their own wellbeing.

Alane BouldHead of Patient and Carer Involvement

The Involvement Team have set up an ‘Involvement Bank,’ which people who have used the Trust’s services can register on to hear about opportunities to share their views and influence how the Trust works. Carers and family members of patients can also be part of the Involvement Bank. You can read more about how to get involved on the CNTW website.

One former patient described how her work with the Involvement Team has not only improved services for others, but changed her life for the better too: “Thanks to the Involvement Team, I have sat on interview panels, met recovery groups, been active in partnerships with professionals – and it all adds up to an increase in my own self-awareness, and positive outcomes.

“In April this year, I was successful at interview for a paid post at CNTW, which will lead me back to where I was before my mental health deteriorated.”

Paul Sams, Service User Project Coordinator with CNTW’s Positive and Safe Care Team, describes how people from the Involvement Bank helped him when creating an information leaflet for patients:

I was sent a list of people who were interested in looking at the leaflet and I contacted them all, receiving many comments and suggestions. I was humbled by the encouragement I received from the Involvement Bank members.

This structured way of involving service users is so important, because I know that each individual has the appropriate support network in place to make their contribution a positive experience.

The Involvement Team is particularly keen to hear from patients about their experiences of using the Trust’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey has been designed to capture their feedback, which can be completed online at

Additional support completing the survey is available from Involvement Facilitators, who are able to assist people by telephone on 01670 501 816 (during office hours) or by email at [email protected]. The survey is anonymous and all comments will remain confidential.

Alane added, “We really want to hear from as many of our service users as possible to understand how they feel their mental health, and care from the Trust, has been affected during the pandemic, and to ensure we continue to provide the best care we can.”