Hospitals need dedicated workers who can identify unpaid carers looking after patients and make sure that they get the support they need.
That’s the claim a leading carers’ charity is making following the conclusion of a successful project run by Carers’ Centres and health boards across Scotland. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers Centres worked with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian, Ayrshire and Arran and Borders over two years up to 2010 to make sure that all carers who came into contact with health professionals were identified, directed to appropriate services and advice, and made aware of their rights.
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is launching the final report evaluating the project on its website: http://professionals.carers.org and is calling on health care professionals to implement the recommendations made in the report.
Research had shown that few carers were being identified at an early stage and that carers’ assessments were not taking place, despite various government policies, strategies and guidance in Scotland recognising unpaid carers as equal partners in care.
The Moffat Project (named after the Moffat Charitable Trust which supplied the funding for the initiative) sent carer support workers into hospitals and social work departments to help identify new carers and direct them to sources of support, and train health care professionals.
As a result, almost 3,000 new carers were identified and more than 3,500 health and social care professionals trained in carer awareness. An independent evaluation of the project by Glasgow Caledonian University found that the Moffat Project resulted in many improvements in hospitals:
- professionals were more likely to identify carers at an early stage and put support for them in place at an earlier stage
- there were changes to ways of working which benefited carers
- carers reported feeling that professionals had more recognition of their expertise in caring and understood their needs as a carer
- carers felt more able to have a say in shaping the services they, or the person they cared for, received
- carers were provided with more information ,such as being told of their right to a carer’s assessment.
The report recommends that funding for carer support workers in hospitals continues and that carer awareness training should be mandatory for all healthcare professionals.
The Duchess of Hamilton (Kay) was one of those who received help from a Moffat Project worker while her husband, Angus the Duke of Hamilton was in hospital. The Duke was diagnosed with dementia in 2004 and died in June of this year.
Throughout the Duke’s illness and as his main carer, the Duchess had fought to be listened to and understood.
She said: “The Moffat worker was extremely kind and helpful – he put me in touch with a social worker so I could find out about getting rails fitted to the house and he also directed me to my local Carers’ Centre. Help for carers helps patients too because it allows us to cope with caring, so I really hope that funding is put in place for carer support workers to continue to work in hospitals.”
Florence Burke, The Director for Scotland for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: “The Moffat Project is a clear demonstration of how relatively small investments can have big results. It proves that employing carer support workers in hospitals can benefit not only carers through ensuring they got the support they needed, but also patients and hospital staff.
“As our population gets older, carers will play a critical and essential role in health care and we need to ensure they have the support they need right from the start. This is why continued investment in this service for carers should be provided by NHS Boards.”
Jamie Moffat, from the Moffat Charitable Trust, added: “Carers play a vital role in society, which was why I was happy to support the project. I’m delighted that the work identified so many carers and put them on the path to further help and support. I’m also pleased that so many health and social care workers took part in carer awareness training as this will hopefully benefit carers for years to come.”
For more information, interviews with spokespersons or the case studies listed below, please contact Emma Baird on 0141 285 7938/07791 230261 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is the UK’s largest provider of comprehensive services for carers and young carers. Through its work with the unique network of independently managed Carers’ Centres, the interactive websites www.carers.org and www.youngcarers.net The Trust provides quality information and advice to more than 400,000 carers, including approximately 25,000 young carers.
For more information on the work of The Trust, please visit www.carers.org or telephone 0141 221 5066.
Copes of the Moffat Project report and the summary report are available here http://professionals.carers.org
2. The Moffat Charitable Trust was formed in 1999 following the death of Jim Moffat, the co-founder of A.T. Mays, the travel agents. A.T Mays, which was founded in Saltcoats in the mid 50s as All Travel by Mr Moffat and his wife, Margie, grew to become the third largest travel agency in the UK, employing more than 2,500 people. It was sold by the Moffat family to The Royal Bank of Scotland in 1988.
The Moffat Trust received a bequest from Mr Moffat’s estate and it is the income from this bequest that it distributes each year. In addition, Margie Moffat made a substantial donation to the Moffat Trust during 2007 which has greatly increased the funds available for distribution for charitable purposes.
For more information, visit: www.moffattrust.org.uk
3. Facts about Carers
- Carers save the Scottish Government £7.68 billion a year
- There are more than 657,000 carers in Scotland, and 110,000 of those people care for someone for more than 50 hours a week
- The definition of a an unpaid carer is someone who looks after a partner, relative or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems and who can’t manage without their help
- Carer’s allowance is £53.90 a week (£1.52 an hour) – the lowest benefit of its kind
- Three in five of us will become carers at some point in our lives because of demographic changes
- Three-quarters of carers struggle to pay utility bills and more than half of them need to cut back on food and heating to make ends meet.
- Three-quarters of carers say their health is worse because of their caring responsibilities
- Every day, almost 500 people take on a caring responsibility – that’s 178,000 people each year
- By 2037, the number of carers in Scotland will have increased to around 1 million.
4. Case studies
The following carers who benefited from the Moffat Project are available for interview:
Alex is 85 and cares for his sister Nell who is frail and is partially sighted. Nell recently celebrated her 100th birthday.
The Moffat Project worker referred Alex to his local Carers’ Centre in September 2009, while his sister was in hospital.
Alex is very independent as a carer, but he did feel his sister would benefit from some company. As a result of his referral to the Carers’ Centre, Nell now attends day care at the Dixon Community Day Care Centre three days a week, providing Alex with valuable respite from his caring role.
The Duchess of Hamilton cared for her husband, Angus the Duke of Hamilton, for seven years, after he was diagnosed with dementia in 2004. He died in June this year.
Throughout the Duke’s illness and as his main carer, the Duchess had fought to be listened to and understood. The Duchess met carers support worker, Keith Lugton, while the Duke was in hospital following a hip operation. He referred her to The Princess Royal Trust Carers of East Lothian for help with a carer’s assessment and provided information about dementia support.
Grace, 57, cares for her husband George, 74, who has a neurological condition similar to MS. George was in hospital following an accident. Grace didn’t feel that health and social care workers were taking enough notice of what she needed while planning for George’s discharge from hospital.
The Moffat Project worker gave her information and as a result, she spoke to nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists so that she had more of an input into the discharge plan.
The Moffat Project worker asked that Grace got a carer’s assessment, he referred her to the Older People’s Advice Service and provided her with information about grants so that she could get her home adapted. He also advised her to take part in moving and handling training, provided by her local Carers’ Centre, so that she can move her husband at minimum risk to herself.