Carers have their own concerns, anxieties and stresses, and the complexities of these can influence their ability to fulfil this role (Trower & Reed, 2016). In turn this can significantly impact upon the patients’ symptoms and psychological state, and has the potential to prevent patients from being cared for and dying in the place of their choosing (Janze & Henriksson, 2014). In claiming to provide a holistic service for palliative patients it is therefore vital that carers’ needs be assessed and addressed.
With this philosophy in mind, in the financial year 2018/19 the Marie Curie Hospice (Newcastle) engaged with the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) with the aim of improving the support offered to carers of our patients.
A multi-disciplinary steering group was initially formed and priorities for service improvements were developed.
The formal assessment of carers needs was felt to be paramount and we therefore embarked upon the hospice-wide introduction of the Carers’ Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT), (Ewing & Grande, 2013). Through engagement with the multidisciplinary team, support services have been established or developed which include mindfulness and art therapy groups, 1:1 relaxation/hypnotherapy and expansion of bereavement services to include a ‘social’ group and a Sons, Daughters and Siblings group. We are using information technology systems to aid the timely identification of carers and have introduced specific information resources in the form of a carers’ hub and a carers’ specialist section in the patients’ bedside folder pack.
Many of the initiatives are in their infancy and so their impact has not yet been evaluated, although much positive feedback has been received. Moving forward there are plans to audit the use of CSNAT and research the impact of these service developments.
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