Our Carers' Charter

A charter for carers and relatives of people receiving services from Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Purpose of the Charter

The purpose of this charter is to set out Somerset Partnership’s commitment to recognising and supporting you in your crucial role as a carer. It contains four principles, which are described in detail on the following pages. By following these key principles, health and social care professionals will support you while your relative is receiving services from Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. This, in turn, should improve the care of your partner, relative or friend.

Definition of carer

The term ‘carer’ is used here to describe an unpaid person who provides, or intends to provide, practical and/or emotional support to someone with physical and/or mental ill health. You may, or may not, live with the person you care for. You may be a parent, partner, other relative, friend or neighbour.

Carers' services in Somerset

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is committed to working with carers. All our mental and physical health care services will adhere to the principles described in this document. You should expect us to work in partnership with you wherever possible, and you should notice this in all our frontline services. However, the delivery of specialist carers’ services is provided by ourselves and Compass Care. Where this document refers to specialist carers services (e.g. provision of a formal carers assessment), then we are describing what the Trust will strive to do for carers of people with mental health problems.

A description of the full range of services provided by the Trust can be found on the Partnership website. They include Community and Mental Health Services to Children and Adults, Specialist Mental Health for Older People, Specialist Health for Adults with Learning Disabilities and other Specialist Community and Mental Health Services. The Trust also administers the thirteen Community Hospitals in Somerset.

Carers of people with mental health problems receiving services from Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust can access specialist services provided by the Trust. Details can be found at www.somersetcarers.org, or contact a member of staff.
Carers of people with physical health problems have a right to request a carer’s assessment from Somerset County Council. Please telephone Somerset Direct on 0845 345 9133 . Specialist carers support services for people with physical health problems are provided by Compass Carers (Telephone 0330 3330089 ).

Principle 1 – We will recognise and respond to your needs as someone who cares for a patient of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

  • Your needs, as a carer, should be recognised and responded to. You should be provided with appropriate help and support to enable you to provide care.

You have a statutory right to receive a carer’s assessment under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, if you request it. If Somerset Partnership provide this assessment it will:

  • Be conducted with respect and without prejudice.
  • If you so wish, be carried out separately from the assessment of the needs of the person for whom you provide care.
  • Allow you to have someone to support you while the assessment is taking place.
  • Give you the opportunity to assess your own needs.
  • Assess your needs without assuming that you are willing, or able to continue to provide the same level of care.
  • Include consideration of how your caring role affects your relationship with other family members and friends, and your ability to work or hold down a job.
  • Address your own health and well-being, your need for emotional and other support, and how you would like to be helped in providing care.
  • Consider whether you would like to take a break from caring and, if so, what type of support would enable you to do this. A break can be for an hour, a day or a week and allows you to pursue your interests, catch up with family and friends, or go on holiday.
  • Advise you on what action to take if you are not happy with the assessment or the decisions made as a result of the carer’s assessment, or if you think that your carer support plan is not being implemented properly.
  • Recognise any other commitments you have, such as looking after your children or going to work, which may affect your caring role.
  • Take into account your personal needs and preferences.

Following an assessment by Somerset Partnership, you will be provided with:

  • Helpful information that is clear, accurate and provided in a way that is easily understandable for you – for example, orally and in writing. We will provide information in your own language, through an interpreting service, or in discussion with a qualified professional.
  • The details of local support groups and advocacy services.
  • Help to get advice about housing, employment issues and financial matters (including entitlement to benefits) where required.
    Details of training for carers.
  • A copy of your carer support plan in a format you find useful.
  • Services that are of good quality, appropriate to your needs and provided within an agreed time scale.

Principle 2 – We will recognise and respect your expertise and knowledge

  • We will listen to you without bias or prejudice.
  • We will take your worries and concerns seriously.
  • We will recognise and respect your essential role and expertise.
  • We will recognise that you have relevant and important knowledge about the person you care for.
  • Your opinion will be respected, valued and where necessary, kept confidential.
  • Your views will be taken into account when decisions are made about the person you care for.
  • Where plans, such as hospital admission, are being considered, you, and the person you care for, will be given the opportunity to consider alternative care.
  • All staff should be aware of the distress and anxieties that caring can cause and offer you help to cope with this.
  • If you need help in communicating your views, this will be provided.
  • You will be told how the information you provide is to be used.
  • We will share information with you about the person you care for, wherever this is helpful and possible.

Principle 3 - We will welcome your involvement in care

  • We will involve you in planning the care for the person you support, and will listen to your views.
  • We will listen to you if problems arise in the provision of care.
  • We will give you a copy of any care plan for the person for whom you care (with their agreement). This will state the responsibilities of all the people who are involved in providing care. 
  • You will be given information about what to do and whom to contact in times of crisis.
  • We will give you information about the way our service works and relevant health issues, even if the person you care for is unwilling for you to be involved in planning and agreeing his or her care.
  • This information about care will include how to recognise and respond to signs of relapse. Whenever possible, you will be told what to look out for and what you should do.
  • When the person you care for is receiving care and treatment in a Somerset Partnership hospital, you will be involved in planning the discharge of the person you care for.
  • We will discuss with you whether you wish to continue with particular caring roles. Future plans should not involve you in any actions to which you have not agreed.

Principle 4 – We will value your involvement in the development of our services

  • We will give you the opportunity to state your views on the quality of the services provided.
  • We will give you the opportunity to be actively involved in the planning, development and evaluation of services.
  • We will inform you of consultations and projects regarding service development and give you adequate notice of meetings, consultation periods and other relevant events.
  • When attending meetings where you are contributing to the planning, development and evaluation of services, we will reimburse your travel expenses.
  • We will provide feedback on information that you offer and copies of any reports published following consultations.

Further Information

If you feel that you need help or advice in your caring role please contact the Carers Development Manager on Telephone: 01749 836606 or visit www.somersetcarers.org

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offers information, advice and support and responds to concerns, complaints, suggestions or questions from patients, their families and carers. If you have a complaint, or would like more information, please contact the PALS office in the first instance on telephone: 01278 432022.

A full list of services provided by Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust can be found under Our services.

This information is available in other formats; including easy to read summary versions and other languages on request. Please speak to a member of staff if an alternative format would be helpful to you.