It’s a pleasure to introduce our newest guest contribution to the Dementia Carer Voices blog, providing an insight into the work being undertaken by our partners across the sector to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers.
This week, we are delighted to introduce Gill Ryan, Project Lead (Carers Strategy) at NHS Education for Scotland, who has taken time out to tell us about the Equal Partners in Care Initiative, which highlights the importance of carers, and of including them and the people they care for in every stage of their journeys.
We are also thrilled that EPiC have made a pledge and have taken this opportunity to make a difference.
“We pledge to work with the health and social care workforce to create and sustain a culture where everybody recognises that it is their job to identify and support carers.”
By any standards, the Scottish health and social services are big, with about 350,000 workers. Many carers feel that they are ‘invisible’ to workers, so it’s an important task to make sure they are all Carer Aware. In Caring Together, the 2010-15 Carers Strategy, the Scottish Government gave that task to NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). Our joint project is called Equal Partners in Care (EPiC for short).
Our first step was to involve as many carers, workers, and educators as possible to decide what was important for carers and what workers would need to support them. The result was the Core Principles for Working with Carers and Young Carers (also known as the EPiC principles). These provide a framework of knowledge and skills that can be used to plan workforce learning and are based on six outcomes for carers:
There are three levels to the principles, the first being Carer Aware. If we could make sure all 350,000 workers reached level 1 it could transform carers’ experiences of ‘the system’. It would be “everyone’s job to identify and support carers”. Everyone – from porters to professionals – would know what a carer and young carer are, about the impact of caring, how to have that conversation and where to signpost them for support if they needed it. While all the principles are important, without carers being identified, none of the others can happen.
The next challenge is to translate this awareness into practice. Our aspiration is that all staff will work with carers and the person they care for as equal partners in the caring relationship. Co-production is an unloved word but the idea ‘nothing for me without me’ applies to workforce learning. Nothing elevates awareness to understanding as effectively as carers telling their stories, as anyone who has heard Tommy speak will agree.
We have great examples of this happening in practice, such as Inverclyde where carers have developed a drama presentation as part of staff training; in Dumfries and Galloway they are compiling a DVD with a wide range of carers’ stories including LGBT and BME carers; and in Grampian carers are involved in Dementia Champions study days.
To support workforce learning, we are developing resources that harness carers’ stories. We also provide guidance on delivering learning in partnership with carers. The EPiC website houses a range of resources and practice examples from around Scotland which can be used or adapted for anyone planning workforce learning, or by workers who want to develop their own knowledge and skills.
There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction and learning from each other, but if you don’t have access to this or you’ve been to a session and want to find out more, the EPiC website is a good place to start. During Carers Week (9 -15 June) we will be launching a Carer Aware e-learning module. You can access this, and more, at www.knowledge.scot.nhs.uk/equalpartnersincare or www.ssks.org.uk/equalpartnersincare
We’ve also produced an infographic (below) which tells you all about the EPiC principles in a very visual way. Feel free to share this with carers, colleagues or anyone else who may be interested. You can tweet it (http://ow.ly/v40pW), e-mail or print out as a poster for your noticeboard.
You can also order pocket cards, leaflets and a guide to the core principles to help you raise awareness. Join the EPiC network to get regular updates, resources and guidance on workforce learning, as well as the chance to share your practice, learning and stories – let us know how EPiC you are. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Lead (Carers Strategy)
NHS Education for Scotland / Scottish Social Services Council