October 24th, 2013
Ensuring that the 5.4 million people in England who care for a friend or family member are valued, recognised and supported, is enshrined in the Department of Health's mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board, (now NHS England).
One key objective is particularly relevant - 'to ensure the NHS becomes dramatically better at involving patients and their carers, and empowering them to manage and make decisions about their own care and treatment.'
To help achieve this, NHS England and NHS Improving Quality are working to develop a series of 'commitments for action' that NHS England will take forward. These will be agreed at a workshop in December, Commitment to Carers, which will bring together an invited group of carers and care representatives, healthcare professionals, commissioners, senior clinical managers, and allied health professionals.
The first step in this process is a listening exercise, to find out what carers need and want from the NHS. It will look to engage with carers of every age, and from every aspect of society. In order to reach as many people as possible and ensure a streamlined mechanism to respond, the listening exercise will take place online, using social media, existing networks and forums, and direct email.
Over the next five weeks, we we'll be asking a series of questions, and inviting carers to join the conversation, sharing thoughts, comments, and experiences. What carers tell us will determine the 'commitments for action' that we will take forward in order to ensure that carers are recognised, valued and supported.
We'll ask one question (or set of questions) each week, for example:
How can the health service help you feel recognised, valued and included when caring for someone?
How did health staff help signpost you to relevant information and advice when you first started caring for someone, and at which key stages and transition points of your caring role?
How can health services best tailor support for you and your family particularly when caring for someone?
How have health services or professionals helped you look after your own physical health and emotional well-being particularly in your role as a carer?
We we'll also be using Twitter to gather feedback, inviting people to join the conversation using the hashtag #NHSThinkCarer. Questions will be posted each week on the NHS IQ twitter feed (@NHSIQ), and we will ask the above organisations to re-tweet to their followers.
You can also complete our questionnaire, or send your views to
After the workshop, we we'll publish the commitments for action, and will also work to spread them throughout the health and social care system and other government departments, to ensure carer's needs and wants are prioritised at every level.
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