The first hospitals in Wiltshire to take part in a new scheme that recognises excellent levels of support for carers on hospital wards and in outpatient departments have been handed their awards.
Great Western Hospital in Swindon earned the award for its main outpatient department and Wiltshire Health and Care for its wards at Chippenham, Warminster, and Savernake community hospitals. This month, both were formally handed their certificates by Carer Support Wiltshire, a charity that supports carers and who have devised this new scheme to help ensure carers receive the support they need from hospitals.
There are over 42,000 unpaid carers in Wiltshire and the NHS depends on the vital contribution they make by looking after family members and friends. Carers play a key role in providing support to others; enabling and facilitating outpatient appointments, earlier patient discharge from hospital, and helping to prevent re-admissions.
There are many known benefits associated with effective support for carers, which are felt not only by the carer but also by the person being cared for and hospital teams. These include improving the physical health and emotional wellbeing of the carer and, in the case of young people, making sure they don’t take on inappropriate caring roles.
Helen Gough is Health and Communities Engagement Worker at Carer Support Wiltshire and led work on the awards. She said:
“We offer our congratulations to Great Western Hospital for achieving the gold level of award and to Wiltshire Health and Care for achieving silver. We have set an intentionally high bar for hospitals to meet and evidence to our panel members and they are both excellent achievements. We look forward to working with other wards and hospitals in the Wiltshire area to ensure a consistent level of support for carers.”
Shirley-Ann Carvill, Managing Director of Wiltshire Health and Care said: “We are delighted that our wards have received a Silver Award from Carer Support Wiltshire, which recognises our considerable commitment to carers. We have developed a series of practical ideas to improve how we can better identify, and support carers of all ages and we will be working hard to expand this as we drive towards achieving a Gold Award.”
Tania Currie, Head of Patient Experience and Engagement at Great Western Hospital, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to have achieved gold accreditation from Carer Support Wiltshire for our main outpatients department here at GWH.
“The department have worked really hard to ensure that they are identifying, supporting, and signposting carers and that their staff all understand the importance of this. We submitted a large amount of evidence to the accreditation panel to demonstrate the work that we have undertaken and are confident that this work is having a beneficial impact for both patients and carers.
“Through the accreditation process we have implemented additional bespoke training for staff and introduced new systems to ensure that carers are identified and provided with the necessary support, information and advice.”
Callum Kidson is a carer and panel member for the award. He said: “I think it has been a wonderful opportunity sitting on the accreditation’s awarding panel to see how different healthcare providers are delivering truly excellent care whilst also supporting the sometimes overlooked carers to feel supported as staff, patients or in their caring role.”
Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Wiltshire Council said: “Having the person you care for in hospital is a difficult situation at any time. Unpaid carers play a crucial role in ensuring a patient who has had a hospital stay can leave safely and it makes sense that hospitals involve unpaid carers every step of the way.
“Great Western Hospital and Wiltshire Health and Care are leading the way in ensuring this approach is embedded from the start. It is important that support is made available and sustainable to maintain a positive relationship between the carer and person cared for. I look forward to this best practice being shared more widely.”
Carer Support Wiltshire offers a range of other support to unpaid carers and can be contacted on their helpline on 0800 181 4118.