National charity, the Carers Trust, has awarded a second gold star to Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust for community and inpatient mental health services, for actively supporting and involving carers, working with them to improve their experience and for the quality of care for themselves and those they help to look after.

The Triangle of Care membership scheme, run by the Carers Trust, encourages healthcare organisations to commit to improving the experience of unpaid carers whose family members or others they may provide essential support to are using their services. The scheme’s purpose is to develop good practice and ensure that carers are included and recognised as partners in care. Six key standards are set out that the Trust has to show as met with each service being assessed and an action plan developed to provide evidence of meeting the standards.

The award recognises ongoing and new work done since the first gold star was awarded, including the Trust’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic to find alternative ways to communicate with and support carers, leading to the launch of carers’ social media accounts, including a private Facebook group where carers can connect. The Trust also introduced a carer newsletter to deliver news and developments relating to carers, involvement opportunities and contact details for other organisations supporting carers. Local people who are carers have always been involved with this work, and despite the pandemic, more carers have become ‘involvement partners’ in the last two years.  Roles have included becoming member of committees or working groups focused on quality and improvement, sharing their story with the Board of Directors, and recruiting and training activities.

Almost all of the Trust services in phase one and two have at least one member of staff who is a carer champion. There are 27 carer champions across the Trust’s inpatient and mental health crisis services and 28 carer champions across the Trust’s community mental health services. The champions are integral to the success of the scheme, as they provide a point of contact for carers as well promoting the Triangle of Care aims to their teams. As partnership is a key element of the scheme, working with local organisations such as Making Space and Carers Resource is essential in helping the Trust to reach out to and support carers.

Rohati Chapman, Executive Director of Programmes and Impact at the Carers Trust, said:

“We are really impressed with the work that we have seen at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and how far they have come with the Triangle of Care programme. During the recent stage two accreditation assessment, we were pleased to see the range of good practice and commitment to carer experience. In particular, there is clear ongoing executive support of the programme and some inspirational carer story work.”

The Care Trust has now pledged a commitment to maintaining the standards in the initial phases and completing phase three of the Triangle of Care scheme by introducing it to adult physical health and children’s services from as early as spring 2022.

Paul Hogg, Director of Corporate Affairs, said: “As we continue on our journey with the Triangle of Care, we recognise that now, more than ever before, we must join with carers and organisations to help make unpaid carers visible, included and supported. I am pleased that we are strengthening our carer support across the community, by connecting with communities and using social media and online discussions. The Trust recognises the significant needs of carers as well as the fundamental role that carers play in helping family, friends and neighbours in the treatment and recovery process.”

You can find what help is available to carers in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven by visiting, emailing or Facebook @BDCFTCarerHub and Twitter @BD_CarerSupport.