Family, friends and carers

Supporting someone who has a mental health condition can be difficult for family, friends and carers but it is important to remember that help and support is available. Taking care of your own wellbeing will mean you are better prepared to support someone else with their recovery.

If you support someone who is unwell you are considered a carer. A carer doesn’t have to be someone who lives in the same home as the person who requires support, although many carers do live with those they care for. It could be a person who keeps in touch over the telephone or is available to listen as a friend. People of all ages can be carers including children and young adults.

At Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, we use the term “carer”. However if you don’t like this word and would prefer it if we use words like wife, husband / partner,  daughter / son, friend or neighbour then just let us know. We’ll be guided by you.

You can speak to the worker who is involved with the person you care for. This may be a community psychiatric nurse, occupational therapist, social worker, a nurse on a ward or a psychiatrist. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is the responsibility of all our staff to work in partnership with carers.

You can also find some helpful advice about caring for someone during the coronavirus response. To help people stay in touch and in addition to the use of video calls, we have set up a Letters to Loved Ones email address that families and friends can use to send messages to their loved ones whilst they are in our care.

Getting an assessment of your needs as a carer

The Care Act 2014 gave rights for carers to request an assessment of their needs.  This assessment will look at the impact the caring role has on your life and what support you may need to help you.

The person carrying out the assessment with you will look at what you want to achieve day-to-day and consider what is important to you.  An assessment is done by or on behalf of the local council where you live.

How can carers organisations help you

Carers organisations can provide information, advice and support to carers of people with mental health difficulties and learning disabilities.

They can:

  • provide you with someone to talk to
  • inform you of your rights (including advice on welfare benefits)
  • help you access a carers assessment
  • talk to you about the support you need and help make a plan to meet these needs
  • put you in touch with carers’ groups if you would like to meet up with other carers
  • Carers Leeds provides support and information for adult and young adult carers in Leeds. Call 0113 380 4300 or email advice@carersleeds.org.uk. LYPFT staff can make a referral to Carers Leeds on behalf of carer too.
  • Leeds Young Carer Support Service provides information and support for children and young people aged under 18 and the professionals supporting them in Leeds. Call 0113 733 9126 or email leedsyoungcarers@family-action.org.uk. LYPFT staff can make a referral to the service via the website using the early help request form.
  • York Carers Centre provides information and support for carers of all ages in York. Call 01904 715 490 or email enquiries@yorkcarerscentre.co.uk.
  • Carers UK has information, help and advice for carers. You can call 0808 808 7777 to find support for carers where you live.
Support available for discussing end-of-life care

Two women hugging each other and smiling at the camera. A resource pack is available called 'My Future Wishes: a guide to advance care planning'.A resource pack is available to help patients, their carers / families and professionals have conversations about their future wishes and to record these in the form of an advanced care plan.  This has been created to help people have what can be quite a difficult conversation in a supportive and compassionate way.

Recording future wishes can be empowering and a way for people to feel more in control when the future seems uncertain. If at a future time, the person is no longer able to make their wishes known, they will have the assurance that their wishes will still be heard.

You can access the My Future Wishes – A Guide to Advance Care Planning resource on the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership website.

The guide includes easy-to-navigate sections on why advance care planning is important and when and how these conversations should be started.  It includes top tips and links to a wide range of other resources, including videos and e-learning.

The Triangle of Care

The Triangle of Care was developed by The Carers Trust and is a therapeutic alliance between carers, service users and professionals. It aims to promote safety and recovery and to sustain mental wellbeing by including and supporting carers.

We’re one of 32 mental health NHS Trusts using the Triangle of Care approach to improve services.

The Triangle of Care is based on six principles:

  • Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • Staff are carer aware and trained in carer engagement strategies.
  • Policy and practice protocols around confidentiality and sharing information are in place
  • Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.
  • A carer introduction to the service and staff is available with a relevant range of information across the acute care pathway.
  • A range of carer support services are available.

We have staff in each service area taking the lead for supporting carers and helping their team meet the standards set out in the Triangle of Care. We ask our services to asses themselves against the standards to see where they can improve. Training is also now available for staff to increase their awareness of carer issues.

If you would like to get involved or share your experiences with us so that we can improve services please email Rachel Pilling, LYPFT Carer Coordinator, or call 07866 217 332.

Other useful links
  • Counselling Directory – a nationwide database of qualified counsellors and psychotherapists.
  • Samaritans are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for emotional support by calling free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Caring in Leeds – Leeds City Council guide to information and support for carers in the city.