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It's an interesting and exciting area and I find it very rewarding
22/11/2017

​Carers Rights Day – 24 November

A Carers’ Lead with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has spoken of the importance of listening to carers, involving them in their loved one’s treatment and making small changes which will have a big impact on their lives.

Eddie Cross has worked as Carers’ Lead for central Suffolk for around two years, and provides help and support to family carers who look after someone with a mental health need who lives in the area stretching between Framlingham and Haverhill.

He has spoken out about his role in the run up to Carers Rights Day, which falls on Friday (24 November), and aims to make sure carers know their rights and can find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to.

Eddie is one of six Carers’ Leads working across Suffolk alongside colleagues in Coastal, Waveney, Ipswich, Bury South and Bury North. The roles were originally funded by Suffolk County Council for a 12-month period, but were made permanent after proving vital to those in a caring role.

“I love the variety which my job brings,” said Eddie, who has personal experience of caring and being cared for by someone else. “I regularly go to engagement events, carry out carer assessments, visit carers at home, provide information, signpost people to the Recovery College and act as a conduit between the carer and clinician if, for example, they come away from an appointment with questions.

“I really enjoy meeting carers as they all have stories to tell. It’s great to know you have done something which is going to make a difference to their wellbeing, which could be something as simple as giving them the contact number for a support group.”

As part of his role, Eddie triages every referral for a carer’s assessment for urgency, safeguarding concerns and any other issues before allocating them to a support worker. He manages any complex cases himself.

The system has proved such a success that Eddie is working with his Carers’ Lead colleagues to roll out the same model across the county and standardise the service and support provided in each geographical area.

“The carer’s assessment gives carers the opportunity to talk about the challenges they are facing and their own individual needs. We can then refer them to the Recovery College, Wellbeing service or, subject to eligibility, find funding for a carer’s break, for example,” added Eddie, who has worked for the Trust for 20 years in a variety of teams. “However, we find that many are just pleased that someone has listened to them and shown them some empathy.

“I am very keen to work holistically with carers and look at the whole picture, including their family dynamics, who is supporting them and how. It’s a really interesting and exciting area to be involved with and I find it very rewarding.

“People can contact me at any time if they need extra support. It could be an issue which we think of as small but may make a real difference to them.

“Having been both a carer and someone who is cared for, I can understand the issues which our carers face. We need to support them and listen to them, as they are very knowledgeable about what works and what doesn’t.

“Engaging with our carers and communicating effectively with them also helps them to feel valued and involved, which is really important as they play such a vital role.”

The Trust has a variety of initiatives in place to support carers, including its “Improving Services Together” strategy, which was launched last autumn and aims to ensure service users and carers can have their say in the way NSFT’s services are developed and delivered.

NSFT also uses the Triangle of Care, which aims to ensure carers work closely with service users and mental health staff and are identified at the earliest opportunity, while carers forums regularly take place across both Norfolk and Suffolk to give information and support.

To find out more about getting involved with the NSFT’s services, visit www.nsft.nhs.uk/get-involved

For more information on Carers Rights Day, visit http://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/carers-rights-day

For press enquiries, email: nsft.communications@nsft.nhs.uk