The theme for Carers Week 2021, which took place from 7th to 14th June was “Making Carers Visible and Valued” and from first conception at the Carers in the Community QII project, staff across the SWLStG worked together to ensure that this year, more so than any previously, we would try to ensure that Carers who are supporting people using our services felt visible and valued by us.
You can tell when a project has been coproduced by the quality of what is delivered; coproduced and codesigned events really work better and this was true of the Carers Week timetable that was offered. It was mental health Carers that made suggestions for what they wanted to see on the programme, ranging from information type sessions such as “Carers and the Mental Health Act reforms”, “Medication management and safety” and “Carers Assessments” as well as a particularly well received session on “Communicating with someone with dementia”. These sessions were delivered by colleagues across the Trust, many in collaboration with partner organisations and included a relaxation session and “Taking Back Control” bite-size workshop facilitated by the Recovery College. On the final day, there was a Q & A session with Carers and a panel of senior staff including Vanessa Ford (Chief Executive) with a number of pertinent questions from Carers that challenged us to keep improving and made us think about how we can progress. Carers asked about staff vacancy and nursing agency rates, about how we are supporting BAME Carers and how many Carers we have registered on RIO and the panel did their best to provide comprehensive, open and honest responses.
All in all, we had 9 events across the week with over 80 carers attending and 18 Carers supporting the development of the programme, there were over 30 SWLStG staff who contributed and 8 partner organisation who supported us including Richmond Carers Centre and carers in Mind (often when also delivering Carers Week programmes of their own).
This year, with a recent report by Carers UK (Breaks or Breakdown April 2021) indicating that 69% of Carers saying their own mental health had worsened during the pandemic and 65% feeling lonelier and more isolated, the energy and drive from staff and carers demonstrated that we, as a Trust, are committed to improving and developing services for Carers. Thank you to all Carers that are working with us and supporting people accessing our services. we really do appreciate what you do and will continue in our efforts to ensure you feel more visible and valued.
For more information, on how you can contribute to the Carers agenda at SWLStG please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For information specifically for carers please see: Information for carers (swlstg.nhs.uk)