Introduction The government end of life strategy identifies family and carers’ need for information, practical and emotional support. Evidence suggests that when carers are supported early in their role, crisis can be avoided. This project was developed in response to carer’s describing feeling unprepared for the challenges facing them.
To explore the emotional impact of caring for someone at the end of life
To empower carers through support and knowledge so they can feel part of the patients overall care.
To offer support through meeting other people in the same situation and providing practical information to carers to help look after themselves.
Methods A weekly carer’s support group over 6 weeks and a 4 week cookery course were piloted in 2014. Carers were invited via the community team, or referred by district nurses, GPs or local carer charities. The contents of the courses were created following discussions with colleagues and requests from carers, for example, managing medications and self-care. Weekly evaluation forms were completed by the participants.
Results Each course ran once in 2014 with positive evaluations. “the knowledge and information that I’ve gained have given me valuable tools to use and to keep in my personal rather than medicinal just in case box” Changes were made in response to suggestions; changing the title from carers support to friends and family support and providing an evening course for those who were unable to attend during the day. Carers will be offered 1:1 support in future courses as some expressed a preference for this over group support.
Conclusion Positive feedback from the courses continued post bereavement in some cases, demonstrating the lasting impact of the support. The intention now is to continue to respond to the carer feedback by ongoing development of the courses. The courses running in 2015 will occur more frequently due to increased demand.
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