Support for carers

We know how important carers are in helping us look after our patients, and that’s why recognising their support is currently high on our agenda.

The Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust strategy Keeping Carers in the Loop sets out our vision of a community health service that works in partnership with carers to the benefit of all patients.

We recognise that carers provide many hours of unpaid support for family and friends who are ill, frail, or have long-term health conditions. Carers

Many people just see themselves as a neighbour, partner or parent, but that doesn’t make their role as a carer any less important – and we want to make sure that all carers receive the help they need and deserve.

As a carer of any kind – even if you think you are just being a good friend or relative – you have a right to an assessment. The assessment is carried out by one of a number of agencies commissioned by KCC and could result in you being offered respite care or other help. It’s a simple, free process and we encourage all our carers to apply for it.

While we aim to put our patients at the centre of their care, we also want to make sure family and carers feel confident about their caring role and that they look after their own health.

That’s why we encourage our professional staff to talk to carers about how they are coping. We also like to involve carers in our decisions, but it’s sometimes not that simple because of the need to keep patients’ information confidential. If you want us to talk to you about the person you care for, you both need to make that wish clear to the health professional involved.

It’s not a difficult process, but it is important that we respect the patient’s wishes first and foremost. Above all, we want you to feel that you are part of our team. Please tell us your observations or worries about the person you are caring for. We are also here for you, so if you have concerns about your own health, tell us. It’s in our interest to help you stay well, after all.

To ask about a free carer’s assessment, just contact Kent County Council on 03000 41 61 61.

Our commitment to carers

We will recognise you as a carer

Even though you may not see yourself as a ‘carer’ but simply as a parent, partner, child, or friend of the person you provide unpaid care for.

We will involve you

Provided that the person you care for agrees, or it is in their best interests, we will share relevant information with you about the person’s healthcare and treatment, and involve you in discussions about their care plan.

We will sign-post you to information and support

We will provide you with information to help you continue to care for the person you care for – if that is your wish. This may include information leaflets and sign-posting, for example to a carers’ organisation or to getting a carers’ assessment.

We will consider your needs

We understand that we need to be flexible and support you to continue to provide the care you do. This means that we must consider the timing of visits, enabling you to be involved as much as you want to be.

We understand that you may need help both in your caring role and in maintaining your own health and well-being.

We will respect, involve and treat you as an expert in care

We understand that you know the person you care for very well – their likes and dislikes, their preferences, their worries and fears. We promise to listen to you in order to provide the best care we can, together, as part of a team.

We will treat you with dignity and compassion

We recognise that carers are as individual as our patients. We will respect your wishes in terms of religion or culture. We won’t make assumptions about your relationship, for example you may be in a same-sex relationship with the person you care for.

We understand how being a carer can be stressful and that sometimes you can feel you are the only one that cares. We will value the unpaid care you provide and acknowledge that the person being cared for may be our patient, but to you they are your mum, your friend, your child or your partner. In other words someone you love, whom it’s hard to see in pain, or unwell, or dying.

Keeping carers ‘in the loop’

In November 2015 the trust’s board approved an updated Carers involvement strategy. This set out our commitment to recognising and valuing the role of unpaid carers in the lives of many of our patients. We also recognise that our patients and staff may also be carers. Feedback from carers and families of our patients and clients is always welcome. Contact our Customer Care Team.