The Triangle of Care was initially developed to improve mental health acute services by adopting six principles. It is widely accepted that these key principles can be applied to all service areas.
The six key principles:
- Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter.
- Staff are 'carer aware' and trained in carer engagement strategies.
- Policy and practice protocols regarding confidentiality and sharing information are in place.
- Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.
- A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the care pathway.
- A range of carer support services is available.
What are we doing in relation to each principle?
1. Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter.
As part of initial assessments, and throughout their time with our services, service users will be asked to identify their family members and friends (carers) who offer them support. These carers will be recorded within the service users’ records as part of a Carers Communication Plan. The service user will also be asked their preferences on sharing information with their carers and carers will be asked their preferences for communication (for example, preferred time of day, preferred methods). Even if a service user prefers for certain details to not be shared with their carers, carers can still be contacted, offered generic advice and information and listened to.
2. Staff are 'carer aware' and trained in carer engagement strategies.
All staff will attend the Triangle of Care training. Initially the training was developed and completed across Adult Mental Health services. We are now undertaking further developments with our Training package to be more inclusive of all types of carers whose family members or friends access all our different services. Further, we are engaging more with carers within the trust and inviting them to be a part of the delivery of our training package.
3. Policy and practice protocols regarding confidentiality and sharing information are in place.
We have in place policies surrounding confidentiality and information sharing. Service users are asked their preferences regarding information sharing with the carers. This may range from nothing at all, to everything, with various options in between. For example, there may be certain pieces of information that service users would prefer not to share, but everything else is ok to share. For further information, click here. We are currently developing a second booklet for our carers too in line with our Common-sense Confidentiality document.
4. Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.
Although all staff members are responsible for carers, we have defined posts within the teams to act as a first point of contact for carers and champion carers within their teams. We have developed a Carers and Carers Leads Network, where both carers and our carers leads can collaborate, share experiences, insights and advice.
Our inaugural Carers & Carers Network meeting was successful in bringing together members of staff from all levels and services within the trust, alongside carers to ensure the opportunity to collaborate effectively in carer engagement and support.
If you would like to get involved with our Carers and Carers Leads Network, please contact Amelia.Abbott@southernhealth.nhs.uk to find out more.
5. A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the care pathway.
We are developing booklets for each service to act as an introduction to the service, specifically for carers. The information provided in each booklet will vary depending on the service and/or team. The booklets are created in collaboration with the service/team and carers whose family members/friends have accessed that service. The current carers booklets for Adult Mental Health services can be found here.
6. A range of carer support services is available.
Alongside making Carer Support more readily available within our services, we have developed a toolkit to enable services to set up Carer Support groups across the Trust in collaboration with Andover Mind. Initially, the toolkit is being developed and piloted within the Mid- and North Hampshire area which covers Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover - see our flyer for information.
We are also working closely with our friends and colleagues at the Recovery College to design courses and resources to support carers.
For further Carer Support services within Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and third sector organisations can be found here.
What does The Triangle of Care mean for carers?
The Triangle of Care, led nationally by the Carers Trust, brings together many years of research with carers into what they feel will benefit them when involved with mental health services. It is based on six principles that mental health trusts can use to include and support carers. It explores what each principle means in practice and provides good practice examples. Although the examples are from England the principles apply to any mental health service provision.
The Triangle of Care - Carers Included: A Best Practice Guide in Acute Mental Health Care aims to improve communication between those caring for people with a mental health problem and mental health professionals. The guide was developed in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing as well as people with mental health problems and their carers.
By signing up to the Triangle of Care membership scheme, mental health trusts must undertake rigorous self-assessments and develop action plans to demonstrate how they are involving and supporting carers as well as promoting the important role they have and further improving services for carers.