Nine simple ways our hospitals can support unpaid carers

As part of our "I like it when..." series, we are sharing what our community likes to see, hear and feel, from different parts of their lives. In this blog, we will be covering an important institution - hospitals.

Illustration of hospital front desk.

Being an unpaid carer can be emotionally and physically exhausting, but there are some simple things our hospitals can do to help.

What follows are genuine comments shared by our carer community. What would you add? Click here to tell us!

Who would it be helpful to share this with?

"I like it when my hospitals..."

1. Understands our cared-for's needs

“Knows what a hospital passport is.”
“Has the 'safe space bed' and sensory toys I requested for her operation.”
“Has a hoist ready when appropriate.”
“Goes the extra mile in order to reduce my son's anxiety. Such as a room where there are no more than 2 people prior to his appointment (to reduce waiting), doesn't insist on doing things my son doesn't want to be done and speaks to the team to find out what the best options are.”
“Minimises any waiting time and is aware of my son's challenging behaviour so I don't have to explain again, in front of him.”
“Reads hubby's notes (more when seeing the consultants assistant not the consultant) before appointment - instead of us explaining everything again.”
“Has space for his wheelchair in the room without me having to move a chair.”
“Allows me to be with my son 24/7 to ensure his needs are being met, covid or no covid.”
“Prepares in advance to accommodate my child's specific needs by reading her notes and picking a time that they will not be late for.”

2. Trusts and involves us in the care plan

“Tells me ‘I’ll follow your lead, you're the expert’ when mobilising mum.”
“Speaks to my son rather than me. And when he doesn't respond, takes what I am saying as the truth.”
“Listens to me.”
“Speaks to me and acknowledges I might have useful information about my loved one’s current state of health.”
“Understand that I know my son better than anyone.”
“Sees me as an important part of my child's medical team, not just 'the mum'.”

3. Has accessible parking

“Has a designated pick-up and drop-off area that isn't shared with ambulances and white vans.”
“Has more blue badge parking.”
“Free parking for blue badges and enough spaces.”

4. Gives proactive and practical advice

“Tells me how long the appointment should be, so I can plan what we need (food, drinks, pads, entertainment).”

5. Has flexible appointment times

Gives me the option of a telephone consultation when appropriate.”
“Gives me some flexibility over 'time of day' - to minimise impact on my daughters' routine (and therefore us).”
“Understands that 'waiting' is extremely difficult for my daughter.”
“Runs on time.”
“Has face to face appointments available.”

6. Has enough accessible toilets

“Has enough 'changing places’ toilets.”

7. Has a clear and streamlined discharge policy

“Has a streamlined discharge policy that enables the patient to be discharged during the day with everything they need. I am currently waiting for my mum to be discharged at the moment and my stress levels are through the roof. We are waiting for a review that should have been done 5 days ago, the doctors to do their rounds, medication and letters for the GP.”
“Has face to face contact by the discharge team. Face to face contact is essential for deaf people otherwise too many errors are made.”
“Passes on all the relevant information after an appointment or after discharge.”

8. Understand the impact on the carer

“I think it would be helpful if I felt that all staff understood that what may look like a 5 -10 minute consultation to them - could be 3 - 4 hours of travelling and a lot of planning for me. With my daughter out of routine, a special diet to cater for etc. It's actually quite exhausting to get to just a short appointment. So things like clinics running late can have a huge impact on us.”

9. Is contactable

“Answers the phone.”

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11 things carers like (or would like) their social workers to do

What's next?

If helpful, please do share this blog. And let us know what you would add to help us get carers' needs visible.

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