Getting to know you – Think Family Approach

This leaflet provides information about coming into contact within with Trust services, a member of staff will arrange to spend some time with you – to get to know you. Staff will explain how the Trust will work in partnership with you, listen to what you say, and ask questions so that we might work more efficiently, and follow the standards of the Carers’ Charter (please ask a member of staff for a copy).

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Getting to know you - Think Family Approach

Information for carers

  • What is a carer?

    A carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a friend, neighbour or relative who could not manage otherwise because of frailty, illness or disability. This may include helping with personal care, medication, cooking, shopping, housework and giving emotional support.

  • Who are carers?

    Some people who ‘care’ are relatives and prefer to use that word. Others have close friendships and are caring for people they live with who are not relatives. Some do not accept that they are carers and even shun the idea.

  • Getting to know you

    Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust greatly value the very important work of family and friends caring for people who use our services.

    Within a few days of coming into contact with Trust services, a member of staff will arrange to spend some time with you – to get to know you.

    Staff will explain how the Trust will work in partnership with you, listen to what you say, and ask questions so that we might work more efficiently, and follow the standards of the Carers’ Charter (please ask a member of staff for a copy).

    Getting to know you – is a process of getting to know the whole family of the person being cared for. By using a ‘Think Family’ approach our staff aim to gain a better understanding of the patients background and family circumstances as well as identifying more quickly the patients main carer(s).

    We will have already spoken to the person you care for, to find out who they consider to be their “main” carer(s) – family members or friends who support them. In some cases if the patient is not well enough you may have already identified yourself as the “main carer” or been approached by a member of staff.

  • Why we want to get to know you

    All members of our service teams – both in hospital and in the community – need to know which carer(s) have primary responsibility for caring for an individual. This information needs to be recorded. If the person is a parent with a young family or a young carer themselves, then any impact on the other children needs to be recognised and a potential referral to Young Carers services discussed.

  • Think Family Approach

    Showing consideration to patient’s family and friends
    As part of our ‘Think Family’ approach we aim to take into consideration other family members, including children or young people who may be contributing to the care and support. Staff will be able to provide information that might help young family members, sometimes referred to as ‘Young Carers’.

    Providing information to carers
    Staff will inform you about the importance of confidentiality and the respect they will give to information shared by yourself and the person you care for.

    In line with the Carers’ Charter, we will;
    • Help you to obtain the information you need to access help and support for yourself and the person you care for.
    • Give information that is clear and accurate and provided in a way that is understandable and helpful.
    • Ensure that staff are trained to understand the distress and anxiety that caring can sometimes cause so that they can signpost carers to appropriate support.
    • Inform you about who to contact in an emergency or crisis, even if the person you care for is unwilling to let you, as their carer, be involved.

    Accessing help and support for carers
    It is important that you let staff know whether you are able and willing to continue in your caring role and what help or support you might need to enable you to do so. We need to take into consideration your other commitments e.g.
    • Caring for other family members such as children or elderly relatives.
    • Work employment commitments.
    • Education or training.

    In line with the National Carers Strategy, staff will respect you as an expert care partner, and will advise you on what facilities there are in your area that might help you in your caring role.

    Most importantly they will inform you about your right to a Carer’s Assessment and how to access this assessment in your particular area.

    Involving carers in the planning of care and support for the person you care for

    The Carers’ Charter states that we will:
    • Ensure that your opinions, feedback and information is used constructively by professionals, this could include organising a separate meeting with carers where appropriate.
    • Involve you in the decisions made about the person for whom you care (with their consent), including the preparation of the Care Plan.
    • Provide a copy of the Care Plan of the person for whom you care (with their consent). This should state the responsibilities of all the people who are involved in providing care.
    • Give you an opportunity to state your views if you feel that the Care Plan is not working and to involve you in discussions (with their consent) on actions to be taken to address any problems identified.
    • Involve you in the planning of any discharge from hospital or from services, including the date of discharge if the person cared for is in hospital.
    • Hold meetings, where possible, at a time and place that suits you and the person for whom you care.

    During your discussion with staff you will be asked how you want to be involved and what practical measures can be put in place to support this.

    Using your expertise as carers to help plan, develop and monitor services
    Staff will explain how you as a carer can become involved in the planning, development and monitoring of Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trusts services, in line with the Carers’ Charter.

    We hope to work in partnership with carers by:
    • Involving you, not just because we have a statutory duty to, but because we want to and appreciate that your knowledge and experience, as a carer, can benefit and improve our services.
    • Adopting innovative, flexible methods of involvement and engagement that enables you to participate in service development and monitoring.
    • Informing you how you can be involved and what is expected of you and what support is available.
    • Listening and welcoming your views on the quality of the services provided and on the range of services that need to be developed.
    • Continuing to provide open channels for you to offer ideas for improvements, with feedback given by the Trust on the implementation of these, or reasons why they cannot be implemented.
    • Working in partnership with other organisations outside the Trust.

    Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust will:
    • Give you notice of meetings, consultation periods and other relevant events.
    • Inform you about how a particular consultation process would work and take your views into account as part of an on-going consultation process.
    • Give feedback on consultation and other events, as soon as possible after the event.
    • Reimburse out of pocket expenses when you are asked to attend consultation or planning events.
    • Provide the appropriate support and training required to enable carers to fulfil their role.

  • Words and phrases

    Carers Assessment
    Process of identifying a carer’s needs and establishing how their needs can be best supported.

    Carers’ Charter
    Carer initiative adopted and endorsed by the Trust.

    Care Plan
    A care plan is an agreement between a patient and a health professional (and/or social services) to help them manage their health day-to-day. It can be a written document or something recorded in patient notes.

    Think Family Approach
    A national initiative to encourage care managers/co-ordinators to meet carers needs.

    Young Carers
    Someone under the age of 18 who looks after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health or a drug or alcohol problem.

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:
    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.
    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    – the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    – complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • Useful resources

    The following booklets are available from staff.

    • Working together to support the person you care for
    • Carers’ Charter
    • Commonsense Confidentiality
    • A checklist for carers
    • Useful contacts for carers
    • Mummy is poorly
    • Resources for carers – additional information resources

    These booklets and other useful publications are also available to view/download at Click on ‘Resources Search’ and type in the title of the leaflet.

  • Get involved

    Sign up to become a Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust member

    Tel: 0191 245 6827

    Membership is completely free and as a member you can:
    • give your views on the Trust’s plans and any issues that interest you
    • vote in the Governor Elections or stand as a Governor
    • receive regular information about the Trust

  • Triangle of Care

    Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded a Triangle of Care Gold Star Award. The award recognises the Trusts commitment to ensuring all staff adopt good practice when working with carers and families.

  • Information about content, other formats and version control

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this booklet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre. If you would like to tell us what you think about this leaflet please get in touch.

    This information can be made available in a range of formats on request (eg Braille, audio, larger print, BSL, easy read or other languages). Please contact the Patient Information Centre Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Published by the Patient Information Centre
    2020 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    Ref, PIC/601/0719 July 2019 V6
    Tel: 0191 246 7288
    Review date 2022