In April 2017 Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) ran a free half-day training course for unpaid carers at the Whittington Centre, Streatham (a base for a range of the Trust’s community health services). The course was an adaptation of an existing hospital-based initiative designed by the Trust to help carers of elderly family members with dementia prepare for their return home after a stay in hospital. Healthwatch gathered feedback from participants attending the adapted course to find out how useful they found it, whether they had been able to apply any new learning and what difference this may have made.The aim was to test whether a course delivered in a community setting could help other family carers better support the person they care for and maintain their own wellbeing, with a view to reducing the need for unplanned GP and hospital appointments. The test was also intended as an attempt to better connect family carers with one of the new Local Care Networks (LCNs) and voluntary and community sector (VCS) services.
- Participant feedback on the course was largely very positive, with attendees describing the session as relaxed, friendly and professional
- They also appreciated the opportunity to develop new skills for self-care such as meditation and stretching exercises
- Participants welcomed the chance to get positive feedback on what they were already doing well but also to learn new techniques or to update their skills
- However, several participants felt that there wasn’t enough time to explore the individual ‘nitty gritty of morning-til-night routine.
What happened next
Following the trial, GSTT secured funding from the Trust’s Samaritan Fund for further caring with carers courses delivered at Guy’s Hospital, with the final two still to be delivered, on 11 January and 28 March 2018. GSTT has widened the eligibility for these courses to any carers of Lambeth and Southwark residents meeting the same criteria of this test project. The Trust is also establishing a new Carers Hub for the thousands of un-networked carers using its hospital services.