Royal College of Psychiatrists new guidance on carer engagement

New guidance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on carer engagement and involvement

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has released new guidance on carer engagement and involvement which aims to provide psychiatric intensive care units (PICU) with “good practice examples to help improve their engagement with carers”.

It highlights issues raised by the Quality Network for Psychiatric Intensive Care Units, including staff uncertainty around “what information they can and cannot share with carers”, which “may mean that carers feel excluded from discussions relating to patient care” and as such could lead to opportunities to offer support to carers being missed. Other challenges identified in working groups included staffing pressures and difficulties with balancing time, with carers noting that can be difficult for staff to build a rapport with them due to the limited time spent on PICU wards.

The guidance then moves on to discuss good practice examples, including at a ward level, a hospital level, and an organisation level. At a ward level, the guidance recommends a checklist of key questions to ask carers and “a list of information which can and cannot be shared with carers”, to boost staff confidence in their communication. It also recommends a ward-specific carers information pack, weekly contact with an appointed staff member, identifying a “carers champion” for the ward, and providing all staff members with carer awareness training.

On a hospital level, the guidance recommends auditing contact with carers on a monthly basis “to identify whether the frequency of contact is in line with the requests of carers”, as well as holding weekly carer meetings to allow carers to raise concerns or ask questions. It also considers good practice to include the recruitment of a “carers’ lead” as the main point of contact for all carers to the service, and the scheduling of carers events to allow carers to socialise with one another and spend time with their loved ones in a social setting.

Finally, at an organisation level, the guidance recommends developing a “carer involvement and engagement strategy” in partnership with experienced carers, as well as the creation of an organisation-wide carer information pack, and of a dedicated carers area on the organisation’s electronic system.

In other carer-related news, we covered Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland ICB’s refreshed carer strategy earlier this year.

To read the new good practice guidance for carer engagement in full, please click here.