Championing carers rights by providing dedicated support for carers

22 November 2023

This Carers Rights Day (23 November) our Trust is raising awareness on carers rights and highlighting the role of our carer leads within our mental health services.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust recognises the essential role carers play in patient’s recovery and have staff employed solely to ensure that the carers have access to support and information whilst their loved one is receiving treatment. The Carer Liaison staff are the first point of contact for the families or carers and can help raise concerns or find out information which may help. They are also there to provide support in contributing to their loved one’s needs, whilst also being mindful of the carer’s own needs too.

Karrie Vallance is a Carer Liaison in Ravenswood Medium Secure Mental Health Inpatient Ward. Her main role is to identify the carers of the inpatients and provide support and advice to them, making them aware that they have a voice and stay in the treatment. Karrie says,polly and karrie 2.png“I like to contact the carer as soon as possible, and be there for them, to offer support, give someone a safe place to vent and listen to what they have to say about their loved one’s history. Carers have so much to contribute to the recovery for their loved one and it is so important we are able to support them, voice their experience, knowledge, concerns and suggestions.”

Polly is a carer for her 23-year-old son who is currently being supported at Ravenswood. Polly really appreciates the support she gets from Karrie. Polly says, “Karrie makes me feel valued and values my insight and my experiences and helps me to make sure they are heard.  I am a carer and I know my child more than anyone else does.  I know more about their behaviour, patterns of escalation, and triggers – information which will support his recovery.

"There is so much available for carers, but unless you are signposted you don’t know these things and Karrie helped me access services, funding, and support for me as a carer."

Watch this video where Karrie and Polly discuss this in more detail.

Carers Rights empowers carers with information and support. It helps them to feel confident asking for what they need and challenge things when their rights are not being met, whether that be in the workplace, accessing health or social care, or when interacting with other professionals or at home. Carers have the right to be recognised for their expertise, skills and lived experience and they have the right to be listened to, consulted, and treated with respect.

Jane Tibble, Carer Lead for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, says, "Unpaid carers are often the only constant in a service user’s health care journey. They are there when crisis occurs, when the person is well and when that person needs support with day-to-day activities. They often have a unique understanding of the service user’s needs and condition and are a vital partner in care.

"If we all recognise the support that unpaid carers give service users and acknowledge them as a key partner in care, then the service users will receive better care and outcomes and the carers will receive better support.  It is important that staff and carers understand their rights and can access the support that is available to them, and we work with them as a three-way partnership, service users, staff and carers, family and friends.”

Unpaid carers are entitled to certain rights which may help them access services, look after their health and wellbeing or could provide vital information and support in looking after their partner, family member or friend.

For more information about carers, visit the website Carers and Families :: Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

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