Meet our Carer Champions
A Carer Champion is a member of staff who supports carers and acts as a key contact for carer information for the Service or Ward where they work.
They aim to improve the carer’s quality of life and help them to continue in their caring role. They can also help ensure that the carers voice is heard when the person they care for is having their needs assessed or met. Carer Champions will also help improve local services by feeding back what they learn from supporting carers.
There are Carer Champions across the whole of GMMH. Most wards and community teams have a designated Carer Champion, who is the link to gather carer information to cascade to their ward/team and to then share with carers.
Each directorate has Carer Champions meetings on either a monthly or quarterly basis. There is also a quarterly Trust-wide Carer Champion forum for Carer Champions to attend to share good practice in their work areas in order to replicate this to other parts of the Trust.
For more information about Carer Champions, please contact Neil Grace
on 0161 357 1246 or email Neil.Grace@gmmh.nhs.uk.
Meet our Carer Champion Emma King
Carer Champion Emma King - Isherwood, Lowry
Why do you feel the role of Carer Champion is important?
For me this is one of the most important parts of my role on the ward. As someone who has had loved ones in hospital I know how difficult it is to be a carer, particularly the feelings of not knowing what is happening with their care. As a carer champion my first priority is to be accessible to carers, be that in person or via email/phone, to answer any questions they have about their loved one.
Secondly, I see being an advocate as the second part of the role that is of vital importance. Due to the busy lives of the carers, they aren’t always able to attend meetings on the ward, and being able to take their views into the meetings is an absolute privilege. Finally, my role is to encourage the rest of the ward staff to be engaging with carers, and to provide a transparent care environment for loved ones and increase engagement.
What do you feel are the personal attributes of a good Carer Champion?
I think efficiency is a key attribute due to the demands of the role. I am very fortunate to have a ward manager who fully supports the role that I do, and gives me protected time to help. However, it is still difficult at times to manage to do the role of a carer champion well, with all the other demands. I think that having good communication skills is also of utmost importance, and being willing to communicate the world of mental health jargon into day to day language.
Empathy is another attribute that serves well to help ensure that the carers feel understood and supported, as well as being kept in the loop; this is the one that drives my ability to complete the role. Finally, I think it’s important to be able to say sorry. There are times when we break bad news to carers e.g. that their loved one has had leave cancelled, and it is of great importance that we are able to say how sorry we are that their plans have been affected in a way that is disappointing.
What have you done in this role/what do you feel is important to engage/support carers?
From the feedback that I have received from the carers they have said that my availability has helped them the most, and helped them to feel connected to the care of their loved ones. For some, they have said that I have made what was previously a hidden world, one that can be a part of where they feel welcome.
I guess to achieve both of these I have made sure that I am in regular communication, that we invite the carers onto the ward at least once every three months, and also that they all have my direct contact details. These are just basic ideas, but they make sure that the carers are feeling involved and have a point of contact. As a result of this, we have seen our attendance at events rise from two carers to seven on average. I have also found that in order to get the involvement it’s important to do phone-calls in the evening of the week running up to an event, and this seems to have been the key to getting them there.
What is your proudest achievement as a Carer Champion?
At the last carer event I was able to see one of my carers present her journey and inspire others that there is hope. This was an absolute highlight for me, as I know how hard it has been for that family to hope in anything, and to see her stood encouraging others was indescribable!
Meet our Carer Champion Eileen Doyle
Carer Champion – Eileen Doyle, Gardener Unit
Eileen Doyle is a STR Worker based on the Gardener Unit at Prestwich Hospital. She has worked for the Trust for 10 years and has been a carer champion since the job role became available.
"A Carer Champion is someone who is caring and can build a good relationship with both the young people and families”.
“My job role as a Carer Champion involves being the point of contact for the families of our patients. As a Carer Champion I am there for them whenever they need my support”.
“I became a Carer Champion because my ward manager asked me if I’d like to get involved as I am able to build up a good relationship with both the patients and their families. I wanted to become a Carer champion because due to my own experiences of dealing with mental health within my family, I am able to relate to families who are going through this difficult and scary time”.
“At the Gardener Unit we do lots of things to help support Carers. We ensure that carers/families receive information within 72 hours of their child being admitted to the ward and I work every weekend, all weekend so that I am there to support them”.
“When families arrive on the ward, we show both the patient and their family around the unit and give them as much information as possible. We try our best to accommodate our carers’ needs where possible for example if families are travelling from far away then we try and facilitate longer visits whilst following all guidelines. We want to ensure that we make the carers feel as happy as they can, when it comes to the time when they have to leave their child on the ward”.
“I’m lucky in the fact that I work within a close nit team who all look out for our carers/families. Most of the staff here have children too so we put ourselves in the families position and think as if it was our child”.
“I think there has been an increase in the number of people who have Carer responsibilities and therefore need our support. A lot of people simply don’t realise that they’re carers because the person that they’re caring for is a family member and to them they’re simply looking after their loved ones”.
“I think for me, the most challenging part of my job is seeing the families who live further away not able to see their child as often as they’d like to. It would be brilliant if there were options for families to be able to stay in accommodation near the unit so that they can be there to support their child closely”.
“My job is so important because I need to be there to support both the young patients and the families that are going through this tough process”.
Meet our Carer Champion Suzanne Grundy
Carer Champion – Suzanne Grundy, Bolton
Suzanne Grundy is a Senior Carer Support Coordinator in Bolton and has worked as a Carer Champion within GMW for 6 years.
“A Carer Champion is someone from each team/ward who wants to be involved with carers. They are someone who is empathic to carers needs and who is able to recognise who the main carer is and who needs the support”.
“As a Carer Champion, my job role is to raise awareness of Carer issues within the team. I have to be aware of what carers are experiencing and also act as a contact for carers. It is our job to deliver up to date information to the rest of the team and contribute to carer development plans. A Carer Champion has to ensure the carers are involved in the patients care plan and advocate on their behalf during ward rounds if they are not comfortable asking questions”.
“We are responsible for keeping all literature up to date and have to ensure that the information is effective for the carers that we are supporting. I am the point of contact for the carers in Bolton and I inform them of carer support groups in the area and provide support whenever they need it”.
“An important part of being a Carer Champion is being able to support other members of staff who aren’t as aware of Carers and ensure that they are looking for carers who need help so that I can then sign post them to relevant services that they may be needing support from, such as counselling, support groups and also benefit help.
“I became a Carer Champion primarily because of my main job role. I work as a Senior Carer Support Coordinator which involves supporting families and carers, so being a Carer Champion came as a natural decision to me. I am a caring, patient person and have a lot of empathy with carers. I wanted to be a Champion to ensure that our carers get the service and support they deserve from GMW”
“I get so much job satisfaction from being a Carer Champion. I see Carers initially struggle to understand our services, and cope with their new caring role but after my input, I watch them become more confident people that are able to deal with Mental Health Services. I give them the opportunity to learn coping strategies, access training, and offer contact with other carers who are going through the same experiences. I watch them go on to live fulfilling lives alongside their caring responsibilities, understanding that there will be ups and downs along their new path, but they are now able to cope”.
“I support Carers often on a 1-2-1 basis. I take them out of their home environment where they care for their husband/wife, to somewhere comfortable where they are able to talk openly without their loved one being present. I usually use my first appointment as a time to offer emotional support and let them offload all their concerns or problems, and find out what kind of help and support it is that they need”.
“When I return to the office after the first appointment, I produce a bespoke information pack for them with everything they need in order to support their family member. Sometimes its information on benefits that they can claim, other times the Carers just want to be able to talk to someone on a regular basis and that is what I offer them. I also provide Carer training; the sessions can be great as the carers can talk to other people in the same situation as themselves”.
“Carer Champions recognise that carers sometimes simply just need a break. We give information out on local befriending services, we offer them a free carer assessment that is done by one of the Care Coordinators and they assess the needs of the carer, looking at how best we can support them. Carers in Bolton are paid £75 to do the assessment and are given this money as a thank you so that they can treat themselves, whether it’s by going out for a meal or simply going to get their hair cut”.
“The most challenging part of my job is definitely trying to motivate other staff to feel as passionate as Carer Champions do about Carers. Their main focus is the patients but our job is to ensure that they are thinking about the Carers too and looking out for anyone that we could provide support to”.
“There has been an increase in the number of people who have Carer responsibilities and therefore need support. People are living longer, which results in more referrals of patients with a possible memory problem, thus meaning more Carers. I often find that families don’t just have one main carer, often within the Memory Team, sons, daughters and grandchildren get involved”.
“My Job is extremely important because I see so many stressed Carers, they sometimes don’t understand the diagnosis that is given to their loved one, but we can help them via our Post Diagnostic Groups, Physical Health Group, Recovery Academy Training, and also our Dementia Advisor. We make sure our carers’ are aware that they can ask for help and support and explain that it’s important for them to see their GP for regular health check-ups!
If we weren’t to go and visit the carers and spend time with them, supporting them through the illness of their loved one, then they get more stressed and could get depressed because they’ve got no one else to reach out to. It is important for us to ensure that we are supporting them so that they don’t become ill, and are then unable to do their caring role”.