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Carers Welcome

We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital.

A stay in hospital shouldn't be catastrophic for people with dementia and their families, but we know it often sadly is. More than 90% of carers report that their loved one with dementia found the hospital environment confusing and frightening. At the Annual Meeting in June 2016, WI members were clear that action must be taken to improve patients' care in hospital and to support their families.

Our Carers Welcome campaign calls on all acute and mental health hospitals to take steps to allow families greater access to their loved one while they are on the ward. Whether that's by extending visiting hours or allowing them to stay overnight, the aim is the same: carer's welcome.

This campaign is not about compelling carers to stay in hospital- we recognise that carers need and deserve respite. It is about ensuring the rights and freedoms of carers and safeguarding the dignity of those with dementia.

How You Can Get Involved

1. Share your story. Policy makers need evidence to support the case for change and to encourage hospitals to alter their practices. If you have experience of caring for someone with dementia who stayed in hospital within the past five years and would like to take part in NFWI original research about your experiences please fill out this survey www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/carerswelcome1.

The survey closes 15th of May. Please share the link with anyone you think may have the relevant experience. Any queries please contact Lisa at l.plotkin@nfwi.org.uk or 020 7371 9300 ext.213.

2. Knit or craft sensory bands! A sensory band is a glove or mitten that has attachments (such as buttons or beads) added on to it that patients with dementia can wear and handle to keep them occupied and calm. Hospital staff say that sensory bands can provide a sense of comfort to patients with dementia. Consult our Carers Welcome action-pack for a guide on how you and your WI can get crafting! Once you’ve made them, use your donation as an opportunity to talk to hospital staff about how they can welcome carers onto the ward.

Keen sewers among you can also download a copy of the fidget quilt pattern, to make quilts for those with dementia in hospital.

3. Encourage your local wards to show that they welcome carers. Many hospital wards do welcome carers at all or extended times, but many carers simply don’t know it! A good first and easy step to spread the word is for wards to hang ‘Carers Welcome’ posters, which lets everyone know that carers are allowed on the ward. Download the poster here or contact l.plotkin@nfwi.org.uk if you would like some sent to you.

4. Become a Dementia Friend or Dementia Friends Champion. Would you like to learn a little more about dementia, how it can affect a person and what you can do to help? If so, why not become a Dementia Friend? You might also want to volunteer as a Dementia Friends Champion for Alzheimer’s Society and learn how to run Information Sessions for others, so they can become a Dementia Friend too. To express an interest in either, please contact the Public Affairs Department.

5. Join our John's Campaign CQUIN letter lobby. Introduced in 2009, the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payment framework makes a proportion of healthcare provider's income conditional on demonstrating quality improvements in specific areas. John's campaign (the policy of welcoming carers of those with dementia on to wards) is now a local CQUIN for 2016/2017, which means that hospitals that do change practice and allow carers greater access will be financially rewarded for doing so. However, hospitals do not have to take up the CQUIN and it remains unclear what impact it will have in practice. Join our NFWI CQUIN letter lobby by writing to your local mental health or acute hospital and asking them whether are implementing the CQUIN. Contact Lisa at l.plotkin@nfwi.org.uk for a template letter to get you started!

Read the Carers Welcome Campaign Action-Pack to learn more about how you and your WI can get involved.