Carers Trust works to transform the lives of unpaid carers. It partners with its network of local carer organisations to provide funding and support, deliver innovative and evidence-based programmes and raise awareness and influence policy. Carers Trust’s vision is that unpaid carers are heard and valued, with access to support, advice and resources to enable them to live fulfilled lives.
Carers Trust had been involving carers in parts of its work, but wanted to involve unpaid carers more meaningfully and more systemically across the organisation. It sees this as vital to strengthening its authenticity and ensuring its activities truly reflect the needs of carers. To support this, Carers Trust commissioned NPC to help them develop an organisation-wide user involvement approach.
NPC worked closely with the Carers Trust team to understand where and how involvement of carers has happened to date at Carers Trust, including what had worked well and the key lessons learnt. To provide context and inspiration, NPC also developed three case studies that illustrated how other charities have approached user involvement.
NPC then facilitated conversations between carers and staff at Carers Trust and their Network Partners across the UK, to explore options for an organisation-wide user involvement approach.
First, NPC ran a scoping session with staff, which clarified the aims and purpose of user involvement at Carers Trust, explored where there was scope to involve carers and expectations around the type of involvement (eg, strategy development, fundraising, recruitment, and governance), and considered how carers would be involved in developing the involvement approach.
NPC then ran a focus group with carers to explore what they thought user involvement could achieve at Carers Trust and for carers; where they thought more involvement would add value; and what support carers would need to get involved in this way.
Then, NPC brought staff and carers together in a workshop to develop options for Carers Trust’s approach: The aims, principles, and possible processes and practices for user involvement at Carers Trust.
Drawing on the discussions from these three workshops, NPC produced an analysis of the options for Carers Trust’s user involvement approach.
Drawing on the options analysis and findings and recommendations from NPC, Carers Trust developed and agreed a user involvement approach that meaningfully involved carers, and is aligned to its new 2022 strategy. The user involvement approach defines Carers Trust’s purpose and aims of user involvement across the organisation, where carers will be involved and how this should happen in practice.
The approach provides a framework of options for how carers can be involved in different ways, in different part of the organisation and its decision-making. It has given Carers Trust a way to be more consistent in how it involves carers, and expanded the ways in which carers might be involved, including through the creation of a new Carer Involvement Manager role.
The work we did with NPC was invaluable in developing our thinking and shaping our approach to carer involvement. At all times we found they listened to us, provided challenge where helpful and brought an invaluable outside expert perspective. They also played a key role by facilitating conversations with our staff team, carers and our network of local carer services.
Joe Levenson, Executive Director of Policy and External Affairs, Carers Trust