Clinical Staff Roles
Professional staff can be key sources of support and are appreciated by carers for their input, especially in terms of making time to talk:
His Mental Health Officer is superb and his Consultant that looks after him is amazing and they’re very open and very helpful to me, very supportive, so from that point of view I can’t say anything but praise them for the help they’ve given me. (sister)
Staff with good interpersonal skills, empathy and insightfulness helped reduce a sense of isolation:
…and we sat and had a chat and I was just like `wow there are people that can kind of get into my head and see what I’m having to put up with’ you know. (mother)
Respondents to the survey reinforced these factors in rating the most important benefits of carers support as contributing towards them feeling understood and being treated as ‘part of the solution, not a problem’. Carers valued staff responding to them with openness and warmth, and being prepared to discuss their decisions with them.
Some forensic carers had received a carer’s assessment and viewed this positively. Others had more negative or mixed views and questioned the time taken to get a carer assessment. One carer had low expectations of support, not feeling it was merited as she was ‘only a carer’ (survey respondent). Relatives appreciated any efforts by the clinical care team to help support, smooth conflict or help strengthen family ties:
My relationship with my daughter was protected by the Consultant… She wanted our relationship to build up again into a positive one. (mother)
This may also involve support to enable a wider range of relatives to visit, including children. Occasionally, forensic carers reported taking active steps to try and shield certain family members from any burden of care.
Some carers had a significantly critical disposition towards nursing staff, but also acknowledged a range of different degrees of supportive personnel:
…the nursing staff, very poor actually, very poor, I feel… again there’s good and bad in every you know place but I just feel they don’t show any empathy to you, I think not all of them but a lot of the staff they just seem to be going through the motions… some have been quite rude, some have been quite power heavy, you know they seem to have this power thing that they try and dictate and I think they forget that that’s a hospital and not prison. (sister)
For some carers, there was a paradox in that staff seemed to have plenty of time which could be devoted to building relationships with patients and their carers, but this was not always capitalised upon. Additionally some of the most positive views on staff were expressed by carers who had at a different time held very critical views on staff in the same establishment.