Hosted by Hazel Blears MP, the vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, the event was attended by MPs, health and social care professionals and carers, who heard how the model can be used to support carers of people with dementia in general hospital settings.
The Triangle of Care guide was co-designed with carers, people with dementia and practitioners and with the support of Dementia UK’s Uniting Carers network. It sets out six key standards to improve the care of people living with dementia by achieving better collaboration between them, the carer and the health professional.
Ms Blears, whose mother Dorothy has dementia, said: “Carers are usually family members or close friends of people with dementia, so they understand them better than anyone. Doctors and nurses should therefore work closely with both carers and dementia patients to ensure they have all the information they need to provide the best possible care and treatment.”
Alongside six key elements (standards) required to achieve better collaboration and partnership with carers, the guide includes good practice examples and useful resources.
The six key standards are:
- Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter.
- Staff are ‘carer aware’ and trained in carer engagement strategies.
- Policy and practice protocols re: confidentiality and sharing information, are in place.
- Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.
- A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the care pathway.
- A range of carer support services is available.
Commenting on the event, Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: “We are very pleased to see this excellent piece of work officially launched in Parliament. When people with dementia go into hospital, it is essential that their carers not only feel included and involved in their care, but play an integral role in it.
“Carers often have their own needs and should be offered information and support. They also have a lot to offer healthcare staff, as they are often the ones who know the person best. No one is better placed to advise on a person’s needs and how their dementia affects them than a carer who has known them for years.”
This work has been supported by Carers Trust and by the RCN as part of its ‘Transforming dementia care in hospitals’ programme, which highlights the importance of working in partnership with carers.
Research by Carers Trust has found that carers of people with dementia are not being adequately supported at critical points in their caring role, which has resulted in a negative impact on the people they are caring for. While the evidence has also shown that involving them in their support can make a real difference to the person being cared for.
The Triangle of Care guide was first published in July 2010 as a joint piece of work between Carers Trust and the National Mental Health Development Unit emphasising the need for better local strategic involvement of carers and families in the care planning and treatment of people with mental ill-health.
Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said: “By involving carers, patients and professionals in the event we hope to demonstrate the benefits of the Triangle of Care model to people with dementia and the professionals caring for them.
“Since Carers Trust created the Triangle of Care, we have seen how it can make a significant difference to carers and the quality of care provided to the person they care for. Building on this progress, the partnership between Carers Trust and the Royal College of Nursing has been incredibly positive and we hope that this can be replicated across health services with nurses and carers working as partners”.