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Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Winner 2012, Best for Carers and Eldercare Award

Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust employs over 3,000 people. The Trust was aware that in their workforce was a group of people who were caring for others, but did not define themselves as carers as they did not recognise their own, sometimes gradual, transition to becoming a carer. The Trust decided that it would take a proactive approach to reach all carers amongst its employees, and to ensure that they received the best support and advice available.

Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust already had a well developed flexible working policy, and this is available for carers to use. In addition, however, they have produced guidance aimed specifically at carers which covers subjects like defining who a carer is, how to talk to your manager about caring responsibilities and guidance on emergency leave for carers and different types of working patterns which might be suitable.

In order to promote carers as a group with the Trust, lunchtime sessions have been arranged where staff can drop in and share experiences with others in a similar position. Managers are encouraged to attend if they have a carer in their team, and external caring organisations are invited in to give talks and answer questions from carers.  The Trust is working to ensure that managers understand that the needs of carers are treated as an equal priority with those of parents, and that managers have a full understanding of the organisational issues connected with caring and the employer’s obligations towards employees who are carers.