Supporting and engaging with the carers of service users is everyone’s business at CNTW, but Carer Champions are key members of staff, the main contact to support carers in their service or team. There are currently over 300 Carer Champions across the organisation.
Carer Champions have shared how they and their team have been staying in touch and supporting carers through the difficult times caused by COVID-19.
They have found many creative ways of keeping people connected; on ‘International Biscuit Day’, patients on Lindisfarne Ward in Newcastle made their own biscuits, and wrote the recipe down for their loved one. They were helped to send these home to their carer, along with a pack biscuits for their carer or family to enjoy.
Carer Champions have also continued to provide their usual support, referring people for carer assessments, additional support and making sure their needs are considered when planning a patient’s return home from a service. They have been speaking to carers regularly over the phone, offering updates on their loved ones’ health and progress, and also checking on the carer’s own wellbeing. Many of the Champions have become an important contact for carers to express their feelings to and chat with when feeling lonely, especially those who have had to self-isolate or are shielding.
Carer Champions have ensured that people on wards can connect with their carers through phone calls, video chats and recorded messages. Wards have received tablet computers thanks to the fundraising by Captain Tom Moore, which have made a big difference in ensuring that patients have been able to make video calls and use online messaging services. Newton and Kinnersley Rehabilitation Wards in Northumberland have even established a regular online carers’ support group, using video conferencing to bring people together.
Several teams have also encouraged people to stay in touch using letters, postcards, and photos of what they have been doing. Some have made and decorated cards with messages for their carer or family, like the one in the photo above. This has proved to be very therapeutic for many, and a welcome fun activity during lockdown when so many other things have been restricted.
For those patients and carers who are not staying on wards, support packs have been sent out by staff. These have included advice on managing particular health conditions, information about where carers can seek extra support if needed, as well as lots of fun activities, recipes and puzzles to keep people entertained.