The role of local carers, and the support they require, has prompted the launch of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation’s Trust’s first carers’ strategy.
The Carers, Family and Friends Strategy was launched last week (13 December 2018) to set out how the Trust is working with partners in health, social care and the voluntary sector to support the thousands of Greater Manchester carers who look after people with mental health problems.
GMMH was created in January last year, when the Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust acquired Manchester Mental Health and Social Care NHS Trust. The new organisation has 851 patient beds, services in 130 locations across the region, and runs more than 700 community and out-patient clinics a week. In the last year it treated 53,000 patients.
GMMH’s first Carers, Family and Friends Strategy recognises and values the important work of family and friends, young and old, caring for people who need help due to a mental illness, addiction or dementia.
It sets out how the Trust will involve and support carers across Bolton, Salford, Trafford, Prestwich, Manchester, and Cumbria as well as how they will work with local organisations to make life better for carers.
According to the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, out of 280,000 carers that are known in Greater Manchester, 70,000 (nearly a quarter) spend 50 hours per week as carers, higher than the national average. 24,800 (c.9%) are young carers aged under 25 which is 2% more than the average in England. Similarly, more than 100,000 (c.38%, 107,391) are aged between 25 and 49, 4% more than the national average. This directly impacts on the health and wellbeing and employment prospects of carers.
It is estimated that a 5% reduction in the number of carers would result in an additional 17m hours of care being required to be commissioned across Greater Manchester per year.
GMMH’s Carers, Family and Friends Strategy demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to the often hidden but essential army of carers, and provides details for the direction and development of local support and services over the next three years.
The strategy aims to ensure that: ‘Carers are identified and supported; are involved and well informed; are engaged and communicated effectively with; and have their own needs met to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle outside of their caring responsibility.
A separate priority in the strategy is around young carers to recognise the high proportion of young people carrying out a caring role and ensure that GMMH staff are confident in involving, signposting and supporting them in the work they do.
Anne Broadhurst, who is a Carer Ambassador at the Trust, has been crucial in helping GMMH develop the Strategy. She said: “I wanted to use my own experiences of being a carer to get involved with shaping mental health services. I know how important it is to be fully included in the person you look after’s care and supported by services both now and in the future.”
The Carers, Family and Friends Strategy has been launched by the Trust following consultation with partners across the voluntary sector and carers themselves.
Carers who shared their expertise and experience to help shape the updated carers’ strategy were invited to its launch in Prestwich on 13 December 2018.
Neil Grace, GMMH’s Carer Lead, said: “Our Carers, Family and Friends Strategy has been developed with carers to set out what's important to them and what they need to support the people they care for. We would like to wholeheartedly thank all those carers, carer groups and forums, who were instrumental in the development of this strategy, giving their time and input.
“The strategy sets out our ambition to ensure that the contribution of unpaid carers is recognised and valued by all staff – to put the rights of carers on a par with those of the people they care for. Communication with carers will continue throughout the coming months so that they can tell us if progress is being made."
If you are a carer and would like to be involved in how the strategy is implemented you can contact the Trust’s Carer Lead on 0161 357 1246 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of the Strategy will be distributed to local carer groups, and are available at GMMH’s central NHS buildings as well as on their website: https://www.gmmh.nhs.uk/trust-strategies.