Background In a Carers UK survey (State of caring. 2022) of 13,400 carers, 36% said that not knowing what services were available was a barrier to accessing support and 29% said they felt lonely often or always. A number of studies (Gregory. J Soc Work End Life Palliat Care. 2020; 16(4):297–312; Demiris, Oliver, Washington, et al. J Palliat Med. 2010;13(8):1005–11) have found that hospice interventions can improve outcomes for unpaid carers. The UK Commission on Bereavement (Bereavement is everyone’s business. 2022) recommends that people be well supported before and after a death. The Hospice Practice Development Team piloted a supportive hub based at the carers’ centre.
Aims To raise awareness of local palliative care services and identify key information needs through engagement with an established carers’ centre. To provide opportunities for unpaid carers to discuss their unique experiences through interactions with hospice professionals.
Methods From January to May 2023, monthly drop-in sessions were held at a carers’ centre. Advertised via the carers’ centre newsletter and staffed by a palliative care social worker. Qualitative data was captured via unstructured interview (Patton. Qualitative research and evaluation methods. 2002) with each attendee.
Results Over the five monthly sessions, three carers and one professional attended drop-ins. One of the carers attended three times in consecutive months. Carers reported feeling listened to, increased awareness of palliative care services and benefitting from ‘unbiased discussion’. In addition, relationships between the hospice and carers’ centre staff have strengthened and a networking opportunity with a new group for unpaid carers of people with a learning disability was identified.
Conclusion Early evaluation shows that provision of a hospice drop-in attracts carers who were previously not known to the carers’ centre. Carers report increased coping mechanisms and feeling validated following attendance at the drop-ins. The project has been extended for a further six months to develop peer support between unpaid carers, facilitated by a palliative care social worker.
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