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New initiative to support mental health carers

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A new initiative has been launched at the Trust to benefit carers who are visiting their relatives in hospital.

Carer leads at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) will be starting to wear bright orange lanyards, whilst on shift to enable them to be easily identifiable to visiting carers who may need to speak to them about their family member.

Carers visiting their relatives in hospital are often anxious and don’t always feel able to approach busy staff to ask questions, for example about their relative’s care and treatment.

Donna Bradford, Service Manager for Carers and Peer Support Lead, developed the idea after seeing a similar scheme in another trust.

She said,

“We have been told carers can see staff are busy and they don’t want to feel like they are being a nuisance by talking to staff and taking their time away from patients.

“Therefore it was apparent that visitors needed to be able to easily identify staff that can answer their questions and alleviate their concerns.”

The scheme was discussed at a carer group meeting and further developed after the approval of attendees.

Carer lead staff who wear the lanyards have easy access to carers assessments and have had carers awareness training or family therapy training. Wards that do not wear lanyards for safety reasons, wear the orange lanyard on their security belts.

Community teams have carer leads identified too and these staff also wear orange lanyards on shift, so carers attending outpatient appointments can speak to a carer lead easily.

Jane Marshall, Director of Strategy at LPFT said:

“By ensuring that the carer is listened to and cared for, they are better informed to cope with their relative’s illness and better supported by our staff.  Carers say to us that if they are informed, supported and understand what is happening to their relative whilst in our care, then they are better able to continue to help their relative following discharge from our services.

“Patients also benefit as the carer is often the main source of support and care when people are back at home. 

“I commend those staff who have put themselves forward to be part of this initiative to show how much we value those people who are carers”.

This initiative was part of the submission that helped LPFT gain reaccreditation to the Lincolnshire Carers Quality Award; as it showed the continued improvement and quality the Trust provides for carers. The awarding body described the orange lanyard initiative as ‘a simple yet creative idea’ to have bright orange lanyards for carer leads to make them more visible for carers.

The Trust is now working on sharing this best practice with partner organisations. The Carers FIRST charity is already onboard and will be informing carers who have patients under LPFT’s care, to approach staff wearing orange lanyards for support, when they have appointments at the Trust or their relative is in hospital.

The initiative is currently being rolled out across the Trust with increasing numbers of staff wearing them.