New carer health co-ordinators are bringing much needed support to carers of patients when they are being discharged from hospital.
The role was set up in April last year after Carer Support Eden heard about some poor experiences around their involvement in the process to discharge patients from hospital. They initially secured funding through Cumbria Community Foundation, and now up and running the roles are permanently funded through North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.
Chrissie Chambers and Helen Russell are based in Carlisle and work with discharge teams to make sure carers are involved in the discharge process and to offer support to those carers.
Involving carers in patient care and understanding the role they can play in supporting discharges and ongoing care is very important. It can help speed up recovery and help people be discharged to the place they call home quicker.
Georgia Wright, deputy chief nurse at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
“When a patient is discharged from hospital their needs may be very different from when they were admitted. This means that partners, children or friends may suddenly find themselves with the role of a carer.
“We understand that carers play an important role in the ongoing care of a person and can be key to support a timely discharge. That’s why we have two dedicated carer health coordinators working within the Trust.”
”We work with Carers, hospital staff and other professionals to make sure that Carers are considered as part of the discharge process. Carers play a very important role but when it is a new role it can be daunting. We support Carers through the discharge process and are able to improve communication within the hospital. We are also there to give Carers a voice when patients care is discussed.
“If Carer strain is identified, the Carer is able to be supported through discharge and the discussions started soon after admission help any barriers to discharge to be identified earlier. Hopefully solutions are found to enable a smooth discharge when the time comes.”
Chrissie and Helen take referrals from any ward staff and the discharge teams.
“We also link in with Adult Social Care and so have a thorough understanding of the needs of the patient and their Carers when they have been referred to us. We contact Carers either by telephone or in person if they are visiting their cared for in hospital.
“We can liaise with ward staff on the Carer’s behalf and participate in discharge meetings. We can refer to Carers’ organisations, adult social care, Age UK, as well as any other agencies with the Carer’s consent.
“We can even access grants for discharge and any other grants to enable a better quality of life for the patients and their Carers.”
Helen and Chrissie currently work with the inpatient units at the Cumberland Infirmary and Penrith Hospital but the Trust hope to further roll out the project and make dedicated carer health coordinators across all in-patient units in the Trust.