North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) – Commended 2022, Best for Carers & Eldercare
North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) is working to ensure carers feel supported by introducing carer-friendly initiatives and policies that can adequately address their needs and facilitate conversations around caring.
NELFT recognises that key to providing support is helping employees recognise that they are in fact carers, rather than just a partner, friend, sibling, or parent. NELFT champions raising awareness of carers by assisting colleagues in identifying as a carer through the activities they do for someone else. Managers are encouraged to have regular conversations around work-life balance which also helps identify employees with caring responsibilities.
The recognition that carers wellbeing needs to be prioritised in order to perform well at work is reflected in a comprehensive package of support. Leave policies include five days of Carers Leave, flexible working options and adjustment leave. A proposed carers policy will increase the leave from five to ten days.
The Trust’s growing Parents and Carers Network (PCN) provides an opportunity for carers to come together and share experiences as well as access support. An interactive carers support guide, hosted on the parents and carers network intranet, signposts to practical advice and information for carers. Monthly forums allow space for staff to reflect on the challenges and rewards of providing care and connect and share learnings with other carers at work.
A carers passport has been introduced that provides a method where carers can communicate their situation, which facilitates open dialogue between employee and manager about the impact of caring. This conversation then enables the member of staff to address how they can be adequately supported at work. The passport can be updated as caring needs evolve and can move with staff to different roles.
The Trust is also a member of the Carers UK Employers Forum and has since been awarded the Carer Confident benchmark of Level 1 Active. This membership provides expertise in managing the network of carers, reviewing policy as well as delivering lunch and learn and e-courses for both carers and managers. Carers Week is used as an opportunity to run events and workshops that optimise carer’s wellbeing and signals to employees that work is a safe space to discuss their experiences.
Instilling a culture of support starts with managers, through regular wellbeing conversations with employees, empowering them to outline the support they need. Flexible working training is planned, to enable managers to support flexible working requests and create solutions for making traditional roles more flexible.
The past year has seen a 50% reduction in the number of staff leaving the organisation due to adult dependants, which indicates the support is having an impact. The number of staff satisfied with opportunities for flexible working has increased from 65% to 71.7%.