21 / 07 / 2010
The 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of mental health and learning disability in-patient and community services for the boroughs of Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan. It employs 2200 staff and covers a population of over 900,000.
What we did and why
The trust wanted to gain a better insight into the individual needs of carers, and it recognised that the workforce was likely to include a significant number of unpaid carers who may, from time to time experience difficulties in maintaining a work-life balance.
The trust aimed to ensure that all carers are recognised and have access to local support networks and awareness of national initiatives and legislation.
How we did it
The ‘Valuing Carers’ project was lead by the assistant director of inclusion and partnerships, who was supported by staff from the trusts equality, diversity and inclusion unit and employment services team.
The equality, diversity and inclusion unit covers aspects relating to patient and public involvement, equality and diversity and social inclusion including:
• the Valuing Carers working group, which consists of carers and representatives from local carers’ centres and support organisations. This group provides a focus for information sharing and discussion
• the involvement scheme, which coordinates the involvement of over 240 service users, carers and volunteers in trust activities, such as representation on staff recruitment panels, audit and investigation teams, corporate meetings and the development and delivery of staff training
• delivering equality and diversity training to all members of staff, which includes, information on the carers equal opportunities Act 2004 and a case study on a working carer
• delivering briefing sessions to managers, staff, service users and carers on welfare benefits, concessions and local support organisations
• supporting the development of the ‘Valuing Carers’ training programme aimed at raising awareness of the needs of carers and the support available to them locally. This is delivered by staff and volunteers from a local carers centre
• the production of leaflets and posters promoting the ‘Valuing Carers’ project
• promotion of activities undertaken by five local carers’ centres and local activities on offer during the National Carers’ Week.
The trusts employment services team provide assistance to managers and staff who require advice and support on flexible working arrangements including:
• part-time/flexible hours
• compressed hours, including term time working
• job sharing
• career breaks
The results and next steps
The trust has increased awareness of carers throughout the organisation and staff from the unit have continued to promote the rights of carers and recognition of carers as a separate equality strand at various local, regional and national events. This includes the NHS Employers 2009 national conference which led to them including a carers section on their website.
It has been acknowledged by several support organisations that the Valuing Carers project has helped to raise and increase awareness of the support available throughout the 5 Boroughs area from carers’ centres and other agencies. Staff have reported that they are more aware of the support available to them from local authorities, carers’ centres and other agencies.
Results from the annual staff survey provide evidence that staff have an increased awareness of the options for flexible working arrangements. Although this can not be directly attributed to the project, we are aware that staff who have additional caring responsibilities have reported improved work life balance.
Through direct involvement with carers through the trust involvement scheme, the trust has developed a greater understanding of the issues facing the carers of our service users. For example, they raised concerns about poor facilities available when visiting relatives on in-patient wards. This led to a working group which has designed a template for the development of family visiting rooms for all in-patient areas.
Dave Thompson MBE DL
Assistant Director Inclusion and Partnerships