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Identification of unpaid carers in UK hospitals sees improved patient care

14 February 2019

Identification of unpaid carers in UK hospitals sees improved patient care

Carer Passports, a UK initiative championed by Carers UK that recognises the role of unpaid carers in the UK health system, has been selected as a global innovative practice by the International Alliance of Carer Organizations (IACO) and global group Embracing CarersTM.

A 2017 Embracing CarersTM global carer survey revealed that more than a quarter (24%) of unpaid carers looking after a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill feel their role as a carer is not recognised within the healthcare system - despite the critical role they play in maintaining their loved one’s health.

Carer Passports are a simple and effective tool to help hospitals identify unpaid carers and gather important insight that informs patient care. They bring better co-ordination, understanding and communication between hospital staff and carers and have shown to improve care and health outcomes for patients.

Carer Passports also help carers to feel more valued and become more confident about what they can expect from hospital staff. The scheme provides carers with access to support with their role such as free hospital parking, discounts in the hospital canteen or information and resources, depending on what benefits the hospital is able to offer.

Carers UK has championed the use of Carer Passports in hospitals and was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care[1] to develop a suite of resources to help hospitals develop and implement Carer Passport schemes, such as template application forms and publicity posters.

Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:

“Too often carers do not receive the recognition and support they need in the health care system, yet they play a vital role ensuring their loved one’s safety and quality of life. Their knowledge can be of great value to hospital staff, whether that’s providing information about their loved one’s conditions, observing symptoms or noting side effects to treatment or medication.

“Carer Passports offer hospitals a systematic approach to identifying carers, meaning carers are both more likely to identify themselves and more likely to feel valued and supported in their role.”

Nadine Henningsen, Board Chair of IACO, said:

“Recognising carers, encouraging them to self-identify and including them as part of an integrated care team is a significant challenge for most health and social care systems. Through the global ICP initiative, we can share innovative practices, such as the Carer Passport, and encourage health care organizations in other countries to learn, adapt and replicate evidence-informed practices to support the vital role of carers.”

Carer Passports are the second practice featured as part of a global Innovative Carer Practices (ICP) series to spread and scale new ways to support carers around the world. 

[1] The Department of Health and Social Care funded the development of Carer Passports in a number of settings. Carers UK led on developing the initiative in workplaces, hospitals and community organisations and Carers Trust in schools, universities and mental health trusts.

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