Posted on: 14 September 2023

Cavendish Conference Centre hosted CNWL’s Carer Conference this week, where we came together to celebrate the power of Carer involvement and to find out what Carers expect and are looking for from our services.

Veronica Kamerling, part of CNWL’s Carers Council said:

“It’s always good to get Carers together, being able to meet each other and talk about ideas. I hope they go home and feel empowered and realise they are very important in the big scheme of caring”.

CNWL’s Chair, Tom Kibasi, opened the conference, alongside Ann Smith from the Carer’s Council. Tom spoke about his first-hand experience, recalling his experience of caring for a friend who spent time on a mental health inpatient ward and his struggle around communication with staff.

We heard about Open Dialogue and the ways it can improve family involvement across mental health services, and we also held a panel discussion on the cultural barriers and individual differences in the caring role.

It was an opportunity to have some frank and robust conversations about increasing the Carer voice at CNWL, to make sure Carers are fully involved in decisions and offered support for their own needs. Tom said there was more we need to do to, and that “we’re committed to getting it right”.

During the conference, we asked attendees what they were most looking forward to. See what they said in this short video.

We heard from lots of representatives throughout the day including Anjie Chhapia, who spoke about caring for her mother. She spoke passionately about the need for personalised care and cultural competency:  

“My mother was placed in a hospice and culturally she had different dietary needs. Because of a language barrier she wasn’t able to tell the staff about this, which resulted in her not eating. This could have been avoided via a simple conversation with me, her Carer”.

We spoke about how CNWL is adopting ‘common sense confidentiality’ and how staff are being trained by Carers to make sure they communicate well with families. 

In the afternoon, a Carer Governor and our Head of Improvement presented an introduction to Quality Improvement and encouraged Carers from across the Trust to get involved in this.

Dr Shibley Rahman and U Hla Htay facilitated a thoughtful discussion on caring for people with dementia and delirium.

Staff Networks Coordinator, Anne Power, delivered a quiz on Carers rights, letting us know about some important changes on the horizon, especially for working carers. 

We discussed the importance of Carers’ support and shared information about what’s on offer, including the CNWL Check in and Chat service, which offers a listening ear to Carers.

A singalong with the CNWL choir, some words of thanks from the CNWL Chief Operating Officer and a prize draw then brought this lively and thought-provoking event to a close. As one delegate said afterwards “the atmosphere was electric”.