Written by Dr Nwakuru Nwaogwugwu on 16 August, 2016
Dr Nwakuru Nwaogwugwu, Darzi fellow and GP Clinical lead for Southwark nursing homes, and Catherine Gamble, Head of Nursing/ Consultant Nurse at South West London and St Georges Mental Health NHS Trust, write about their experiences of developing ‘Time to Think About You’ for family carers.
“When you are a carer first, you focus on the one you are looking after.”
From our clinical experience in primary and secondary care we realised that we don’t always know who the carers are; they may feel they cannot approach us with their concerns, and they may not identify themselves as carers in the first place.
This project came about as part of a Darzi Fellowship opportunity and a Health Innovation Network (HIN) dementia theme project focussing on carers. The dementia theme had initially done some work scoping education for dementia carers. While there are great projects that help provide carers with education and training, like Caring for Carers, START and CriSP, we wanted to make sure that carers also had the tools to prioritise their own health.
Having approached the Carers Trust, we recognised the value of a modified triangle of care between the GP, carers’ centres and carers themselves. From this we began to co-produce a project between the Health Innovation Network and the Carers Trust.
We initially approached two dementia carer groups in south London, Wandsworth carers dementia group and the ‘If only I’d known’ carers support group. They provided a wealth of experience and information, and while some wanted the GP to ask all the questions, others thought a prompt card would be beneficial in raising awareness. They felt that “It would make time to stop and think,” as “When you are a carer first, you focus on the one you are looking after”.
‘Time to Think About You’ is the result of listening to these carers and involving them in the design and content of the prompt card. Carers’ feedback includes that “It summarises the feelings and situations of carers,” and “The leaflet helps to quantify concerns and problems when it is hard to put things into words.”
We find that ‘Time to think about you’ can support most carers, not only those who look after people with dementia. We hope coupled with other initiatives and as part of wider carer support, that ‘Time to think about you’ will keep caring on the agenda.
The resource is available now on the Carers Trust website. Please share the tool and let a carer know its #timetothinkaboutyou.