A day-long event to promote hospital staff and carers working well together is being held at Frimley Park Hospital on Thursday 28 January.
The Carers Day at Frimley Park will include a display in the main entrance where members of the public can meet experts from the hospital and other organisations who can help them. Hospital staff will be on hand to listen to carers’ concerns and ideas and to explain the support that they are aiming to provide to inpatients with carers.
Victoria Riley, a nurse who is part of the team organising the event, said: “One of the barriers we find is that people who are looking after loved ones often don’t think of themselves as carers. The result is that they could be missing out on a range of practical and financial support.
“Part of the reason for our awareness day is to help people understand what a carer is and what support they can access. We recognise that they are a cornerstone of care in our community and we want to make sure as a hospital that we are doing all we can for them.
“Frimley Park colleagues will also be able to learn more about working with carers to give the best possible support and health outcomes for their loved ones.”
Frimley Park is using the day to promote a new scheme where carers of inpatients will have an identity badge that recognises their status and allows them certain concessions, such as open visiting times.
It is estimated that there are 6.5 million carers in the UK and this is set to rise by 40% in the next 20 years. They provide round the clock care for millions of people in need.
One family who have been helping staff understand carers’ needs are the Lewingtons, from Farnborough. Ken and Anne’s daughter Mandy, aged 44, was born with Down’s syndrome. Mandy lived a very independent life and was a successful sportswoman who won special Olympic medals in a range of events. But all that changed 13 years ago when she was struck by car.
Doctors did not expect her to survive her injuries and her parents believe she only lived because she was so fit and healthy before the accident. Mandy spent five months at Frimley Park and a further five months in rehabilitation at Haslemere Hospital.
Anne said: “It was like starting over again as a baby and teaching her everything from scratch.”
Despite this, she and Ken say they don’t think of themselves as carers. “You’re just their mum and dad and you do what you have to do for them.”
When Mandy was in hospital Ken said it was really important that staff understood how much they needed to be directly involved in caring for their only daughter.
“We would say the machines are yours, but our daughter is ours,” said Ken.
Mandy has made a remarkable recovery, but she still needs to use a wheelchair and relies on her parents for everyday care.
The family now use their experiences to advise the hospital’s carers and disability steering group. This helps hospital teams develop policies and practices that integrate carers into inpatient care.
- A carer is defined as someone who, without payment, provides essential help and support to a friend, neighbour or relative who could not manage otherwise because of frailty, illness, mental health problems or disability. Carers come from all walks of life and can be any age.
- The Frimley Carers Day is being held on Thursday 28 January, which coincides with Young Carers Awareness Day.
- Members of the public can meet professionals from Frimley Park and partner organisations in the Main Entrance of the Portsmouth Road hospital from 9am to 4pm.
- A parallel event open to staff is aimed at raising the profile of carers and the role they play in hospital and community care. Staff will have the chance to meet carers and patients to hear their experiences and suggestions.
- Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Frimley Park Hospital, has signed up to John’s Campaign, which promotes the right for carers to stay in hospital with people who have dementia.