Involving carers is not just about consultation, and it is not about one way of doing things.
Use a wide ranging approach so that carers can pick who they engage with to maximise the participation of a wide range of individuals.
Planning carer involvement
With commitment at a senior level it should be possible to:
- Recognise carer participation as ‘core business’ and allocate a budget and other sufficient resources, like staff time to do it effectively.
- Use local carers’ organisations, like carers centres and schemes to help you.
- Include carers who may face multiple types of oppression in their wider lives, such as black, Asian and minority ethnic carers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender carers and carers of those who misuse alcohol and substances. Identify hidden carers to counteract this.
- Inform and educate people about why they should get involved.
You could also:
- Provide all the information that lay people need to participate on an equal footing with others.
- Try to make all information clear and jargon-free.
- Develop feedback mechanisms to ensure carer input makes a difference to service delivery.
- Develop tools to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of carer participation; what works and what does not, what barriers are there.
- Use the internet and email to involve carers who may not be able to get to events and meetings.
Engage and support carers
Finally, do not underestimate the time needed to fully engage and support carers and be prepared to repeat events to ensure as many carers as possible can participate. Many carers will sometimes have difficulties in keeping appointments.