Identifying the needs of carers in mental health services

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Abstract

Aim

To assess all carers in the Gloucester Assertive Community Treatment Team and identify their needs.

Method

Carers were identified using the definition employed in the National Service Framework for Mental Health (DH, 1999): they were family or close friends who spent a minimum of 12 hours per week helping/supporting the service user. Paid carers were excluded. A standardised carer's assessment that had been developed as part of the care programme approach (CPA) was used to evaluate the needs of carers.

Results

The study highlights the type of support that carers give those who use the mental health services and reveals the impact that this caring has on them. The carers' needs are identified as: someone to talk to; help with cleaning/ironing; help with finances; support to enable them to take a break; plus respite care and accommodation for the service user.

Conclusion

Carers play an important role in supporting people who are diagnosed with severe mental illness although further research is necessary to consider the benefits of a closer relationship between the carer, service user and mental health professionals.

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