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Project boosts links between community nurses and carers

Carers are set to be supported by community nurses thanks to new Department of Health funding for the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI).

The project, which has a full-time project officer and is initially funded for one year, will involve 300 community nurses.

The government has launched its Carers Strategy with the aim of minimising problems experienced by carers, such as seeing their own health suffer as a result of their role helping relatives or friends.

Carers receiving support from nursing teams are less likely to suffer ill health themselves, and are more able to give effective care. It also reduces the need for health service interventions.

The QNI was given funding last year by the Department of Health to develop an online resource that assists nurses and healthcare assistants in working more effectively with carers.

Wendy Nicholson, from the Department of Health, hosted an event last week at a joint DH/QNI seminar at Liverpool John Moores University, where around 100 community nurses were shown the resource and how it can help them.

New project boosts links between nurses and carers

A number of young carers also took part in the event alongside Ms Nicholson as they spoke of the importance of effective joint working.

Dame Philippa Russell, chair of the government’s Standing Committee on Carers, was one of the speakers at the event and gave a first hand account of the major impact that being a carer can have on an individual’s life choices.

She said that as a carer for three individuals she regularly works with eight different nurses, who have a “unique knowledge of the whole family” and act as “ambassador, advocate and champion”.

All carers put their own health to one side as they throw themselves into the role of carer, she stated.

The online resource from QNI is aimed particularly at nurses who visit patients at home, while the next phase of the DH/QNI carers project will focus on practice nurses and school nurses and how they can play a role in supporting carers, including young carers.

Over the project’s 12 months it aims to develop a network of community nurses dedicated to supporting carers; to recruit and support carers nurse champions; to develop more learning resources, and to conduct a national survey to identify areas of greatest need.

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