A Carer Passport can help identify carers of mental health patients to staff, playing a vital role in helping carers feel valued and recognised as knowledgeable partners in care.
A Carer Passport can also assist staff to involve and engage a carer where appropriate, in the care of their relative or friend.
A ‘Carer Passport’ does not replace a model of carers support such as the Triangle of Care or a ‘Carers Charter’ which many trusts will already have in place. The principle of a Carer Passport is that it is intended to be a mechanism for drawing together a range of support for carers and making explicit an ‘offer’ by the mental health trust to a carer.
This ‘offer’ should communicate clearly what support a carer can expect and is likely to include information and advice, emotional support, a range of practical initiatives or ‘privileges’ to support the involvement and engagement of carers and a range of concessions or discounts that will help make life easier for them.
The diversity of a mental health trust will mean that the way a Carer Passport operates and what it offers is likely to differ across different services. So a Carer Passport operating in a CAMHS service may reflect a different response to carers than a Passport operating in for example a secure unit or a Community Learning Disability Service. The principle however of a Carer Passport would remain the same.
What is a Mental Health Carer Passport?
The visible form of a Carer Passport may be a card, wallet, booklet or perhaps a badge that is easily recognised by staff and will clearly identify and acknowledge someone as a carer.
Early identification and information
The operation of a Passport scheme will support the identification of carers at the earliest opportunity. A timely introductory conversation would take place with a carer where they would be provided with key information to support them as a carer as well as information that introduces the Carer Passport scheme and how to acquire a Passport.
A Carer Passport scheme should ensure that a carer is provided with timely information and contacts to support them with their interactions with the trust and the relevant service and also information about further support and services that they can access as a carer. A Passport should act as a gateway for carers to access a range of emotional support including opportunities to talk with staff, access to counselling, telephone support, or mutual support through a carer support group.
Provision of support
The Carer Passport would also act to provide a carer with a range of provisions or entitlements that together could make a big difference to experience. Trusts have the opportunity to be creative in identifying potential provisions which might include flexible or extended visiting hours, family friendly visiting rooms, access to a staff canteen, discounted food and car parking and travel concessions. If supported by local businesses, a Passport might also give carers discounts on a range of local services and products.
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