Created by Professor Jane Seymour, Dr Beth Hardy and Dr Glenys Caswell from the University of Nottingham together with the Carers Federation, and jointly funded by Marie Curie and Dimbleby Cancer Care, the programme aims to give participants insight into the practical and emotional needs of carers.
The core training is designed to be delivered over one day. It includes discussion guides, group exercises and film clips of carers talking about their experiences.
Marie Curie has already been using the new programme to train its support line advisers, and volunteers for its helper service. Several other health and social care organisations have also been involved in piloting the training.
Informal carers make a huge contribution to the lives of patients with life-limiting illnesses every year. Recent research has shown that of the £641 million that it costs to care for people with lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer each year, around 34% of that is made up by informal carers.
Bill Noble, Marie Curie’s medical director, said that currently there is little help available to many carers: “We need to recognise the contribution carers make and ensure that they are adequately supported in their role. This programme will enable those that support carers to understand their needs and provide more effective advice and mentorship.”
He continued: “Carers of patients approaching the end of life assume great responsibility in ensuring that the care is delivered. Just in the area of cancer, research by UCL found that unpaid carers of people with terminal cancer provide health and social care worth £219 million each year.”
Robin Pritchard, director at Dimbleby Cancer Care, added: “The experience of caring for a loved one at the end of their life is likely to be unknown territory for most people and there is therefore undoubtedly a great need for effective mentorship and support.
“A key consideration has been to ensure that the training programme enables those that support carers to provide relevant, jargon free explanations of care concepts and practical demonstrations.”
The new training programme can be accessed online for free on the University of Nottingham website.