Giving family carers a voice: a one day conference on carer assessment and support

Categories: Education.

We all know the vital role played by carers (family members/friends) in supporting patients – we see it in daily clinical practice, in research findings, in policy guidance and increasingly in the media.

The impact on carers’ health and wellbeing and the need to support them while they take on this caring role is well recognised.

But what do we mean by ‘support’? How can we ensure it is right for the carer? How can we enable carers’ own views of the support they need to be heard? ‘Person-centred’ care appears everywhere, but what does it actually mean and how can we deliver it for carers in everyday practice?

On Wednesday 2 March 2016, we are holding a one-day conference to bring together the voices of practitioners, carers, researchers and policy makers to consider these questions.

This important event will provide a unique opportunity to explore how we can achieve a person-centred approach to supporting carers in palliative and end of life care.

Researchers from The University of Manchester (Professor Gunn Grade, Dr Janet Diffin and Dr Lynn Austin) and the University of Cambridge (Dr Gail Ewing) are hosting this conference. Their programme of research has developed and validated a tool to help deliver person-centred care in practice: the Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT).

CSNAT is evidence-based and, importantly, it was developed from the voices of carers and has been evaluated in practice across a range of hospice home care and palliative care services.

When the CSNAT is integrated into a process of assessment and support that is practitioner facilitated but carer-led, it has been shown to be effective in making carers’ support needs visible, legitimising support for carers and opening up new conversations with carers.

Here is what practitioners have said about using the CSNAT:

  • … they [carers] like the fact that it prompted them and enabled them to talk about the areas that they may not have spoken about, if they didn’t see something written down. And I think it enables them, maybe, to have more of a voice, and that they see that other people have the same type of issues, that it’s not a weakness in them.
  • … in the past, carers’ needs were very much subjective. It was my interpretation of what I think the carer needs, without necessarily getting explicit feedback or evidence, that there was a need there. And sometimes the things that you think that people want, is not what they want at all.

The conference – Supporting family carers in palliative care: rhetoric or reality? – is being held on Wednesday 2 March 2016 at the Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre, Milton-Keynes. For further information, please visit the CSNAT website.

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