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Posted on Nov 26 2020 by

Carers Rights Day 2020: One of our Carer Governors reflects on her experiences and thoughts for the future...

“St Andrew’s was our last hope for our son, who then late twenties on admission and partly due to undiagnosed autism, had gone on to suffer mental illness since his early teenage years. The care and compassion shown to him on the ward right from the very first day at St Andrew’s gave us our first flicker of hope in ages. Long telephone interviews from hospital social workers and the promise of regular contact and updates made us feel that we were cared for too, and a rare commodity for a carer.

But with the changing of staff things changed and some of the remaining staff were too stretched to continue to go the extra mile and support the family too. However, we comforted ourselves in knowing that our son was still being exceptionally well cared for on the ward by some very professional and compassionate members of the ward team. 

Being invited to give a talk to the ward’s MDT on the role of families and carers I was struck by two things: firstly how staff weren’t necessarily aware of the impact of the daily battle many families and carers face, and secondly the staff’s eagerness to learn and apply that learning to their work. 

Fuelled by a fierce desire to support the wonderful staff who were working so hard to give my son and all the other patients hope of a meaningful life I decided to apply to become a Carer Governor at St Andrew’s. COVID is unfortunately preventing me from being able to carry out much of my role, but my prime objective for every family member, carer and friend is to know that their loved one is treated as if they were my very own, with consummate professionalism, compassion and humour and that their voice will be heard. I hope I can report more on that in the future. 

St Andrew’s is going through a time of transformational change, and I’m clear on the changes that I would like to see at the Charity: I hope to see the day when every single member of staff feels empowered and free from fear, to call out their own mistakes and those of others, so everyone may learn from them. Errors are actually valuable data; they are learning points for us all. Knowledge is power. Everything we do or have only exists as a result of past mistakes by recognizing this we empower ourselves.” 

Carers need to know their rights wherever they are in their caring journey: whether they are in the workplace, in a healthcare setting, when interacting with professionals or at home. To find out more, visit carersuk.org