National guidelines over the past 20 years have emphasised the need for mental health services to work in partnership with families and carers, viewing them as an important resource in the treatment process and offering them support in their own right. Implementing such family inclusive practice is not always easy because of the enormous shift required in organisational and professional cultures which have historically embraced individual care models.
We heard families say that they felt excluded from their relative’s care or even blamed for the problems, whilst staff said they felt unclear and anxious about the principles of confidentiality and information sharing.
In Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust we have developed a training package - see the images below -
for our staff to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence in creating collaborative partnerships with families and carers.
In order to ensure that family/carer voices are present in the training, we worked in partnership with a local Rethink group to create some carer stories. Two carer volunteers recruited people from the group who wanted to tell the story of their experiences with adult mental health services. We recorded interviews with these carers using questions developed by the carer volunteers, which captured issues that were important to them. These films are played in the training and staff are invited to reflect on their responses. Experiential exercises are also used to create empathic appreciation for family and carer perspectives.
We talk about the principles of confidentiality and information sharing with families and carers and discuss and unpick practice dilemmas in relation to this.
Role play is used to develop skills and confidence in engaging in collaborative partnerships with families and carers.
Supervision, coaching and ongoing support for staff, which includes modelling family inclusivity and collaboration is provided by staff who have undertaken further training in family work. This helps to translate and embed the learning into practice.
Although it’s a slow process, we are encouraged by the positive feedback we receive from families, carers and training participants. One of the carers who had recorded a carer story for our training said that she had a ‘completely different experience’ of her son’s recent admission to an inpatient ward. She went on to say that she felt included and that this made a huge difference to her.
For further information please contact:
Family Therapy & Interventions Lead
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