The introduction of a Carer Passport scheme has the potential to benefit not only carers, but also those they care for and the service outcomes of the mental health trust itself.
A Carer Passport scheme will help embed and help systematise good practice within a trust and signify a further step towards and the realisation of a more ‘carer friendly’ NHS where carers are recognised, valued and supported. They will feel more supported, more able to and they will know exactly what they can expect from the Trust.
The case for carers
If I had a Carer's Passport, I would at least have a physical manifestation of carer identification, which I would truly own and can carry anywhere with me. Ownership of identify can be a very powerful thing
Early identification, support and better outcomes
Carers for people with mental health needs, depending on the strength of individual care pathways may not be recognised for some time and they may not come across services other than the mental health trust itself. A Carer Passport scheme however will help the identification of carers and their navigation to further support at an early stage.
Recognised, valued and understood
Once identified and given a Carer Passport, carers will feel recognised, valued and understood by staff. Carers will feel more confident in communicating their own needs to staff and most importantly they will not have to keep repeating their stories at different points of contact. Used as a communication tool, a Passport will enable services to gain a fuller picture of a carer’s situation and staff would have access to the information about carers that has been shared by the carers themselves.
Information for carers
A Carer Passport scheme should trigger the provision of timely information for carers which can lead to a very different experience for a carer and reduce a lot of the stress they might otherwise experience. Timely information about the support that is available will help carers feel more confident and informed and help carers to swiftly find and access further services and support which can play an important role in protecting the their own health, wellbeing and opportunities. Information about the support being given to a relative or friend - if consent is in place – and even generalised information about a service, about conditions or about therapies available can be reassuring for carers and can help reduce anxiety.
Involvement of carers and better patient outcomes
A Carer Passport will make it easier for carers to identify themselves to staff and will improve the understanding and recognition that staff have of their role as a carer. This will help staff to actively engage carers in the care and treatment of their family member or friend and carers will feel more involved and able to participate as partners in care.
Patients themselves can benefit from having the expertise of their carer informing any treatment they receive. By improving the understanding and co-operation between staff and carers, a Carer Passport will not only help carers feel more reassured about the care provision, but should lead to improved patient care and better patient outcomes. Where a Passport triggers targeted information for carers about specific conditions and medicines and gives carers access to specific training to support their caring role, this should further benefit patient outcomes.
The case for staff and patient care
Having a Carer Passport will enable Trusts to embed Triangle of Care in their everyday practice. It provides a practical means of achieving Triangle of Care objectives and ensuring the carer is engaged on an equal footing to that of the staff and service user. This forms the basis of true partnership working. (Carer Lead)
The implementation of a Carer Passport scheme to support carers will increase staff knowledge and understanding and is likely to build their confidence and job satisfaction. It should also improve the understanding that staff have of the individual circumstances and experiences of carers which should impact positively on the relationships between staff and carers.
Where communications are developed, where engagement of carers is improved and where flexibility is offered with visiting times, these have the potential to reduce the pressure on staff time.