Meet our new Carer Lead

Neil Grace Neil Grace joined us at the beginning of October 2016 as Carer Lead replacing Tracy Collard who is now working for Mersey Care. Neil previously worked for addaction, a British charity that supports people with alcohol and drug misuse, as a Team Leader and has over 11 years’ experience of mental health, drug, alcohol and family services.

Originally from Bolton, Neil has had experience of working with carers in NHS and charity settings and will be responsible for overseeing the Trusts support for the carers, family members and friends of our patients across all our services.

Who Cares? (our newsletter for carers and supporters -family, friends, loved ones and professionals) spoke to Neil to find out how he’s settling in to his new role…

What attracted you to the role?

“I was drawn to the organisation as carers are a really big part of the Trust’s agenda and there’s a lot of support behind this, for instance the Carers Charter, Family and Carers Strategy and Health and Wellbeing for Carers training. It’s not just a side issue or an afterthought and it’s so important for us as an NHS trust and our patient’s family, friends and carers to get right.”

What would you like to achieve?
“Developing our services in line with carers wants and needs. Ensuring our services and support for carers is personalised and that there’s a consistent approach across all our services, so everyone knows what to expect and receives the same high-standard of help and care.”

Why do you think the role of Carer Lead is important?
“Carers are at the heart of our patient’s care. It is only going to benefit our patients if carers are supported both whilst they are in treatment and when they are discharged. It benefits everyone in the long-term. We want to involve family members in our service users’ care as much as possible to help shape and develop our mental health services.”

What advice would you give to people looking after someone?
“Don’t go through it alone. There is support out there for you as well as the person you look after. We need to look after you as much as our patients as we recognise that our services are enhanced by your contribution. I’d encourage anyone in a caring role to engage with services and speak to their local Carer Champion to find out what support we can offer and ensure you are involved as much as you want to be in your loved one’s care.”

If carers are worried about the person they look after, who should they speak to?
“Any member of our staff. Staff are aware of the importance of carers from the start of their employment with the Trust, so they should be able to help you or direct you to the local Carer Champion or carer lead in your service.”

If carers have specific needs of their own, who should they ask for help?
“Carer Champions can signpost them to the relevant support, local carer centres available in their area and help them with a carers assessment to establish their needs and requirements. We also provide specific Health and Wellbeing for Carers training, which will provide them with a better understanding of the challenges they may face as a carer, and offers practical advice and solutions. By engaging with us earlier we can hopefully help them to stay healthy and well and prevent any crises.”

What can't you live without (apart from your family)?
“My guitar. I used to play bass guitar in a punk band and now I play acoustic guitar in a country duo band. I used to do gigs and open mic nights and I enjoy anything to do with music.”

What are your favourite pastimes?
“Long-distance running is a real passion of mine and I’m doing the Manchester Marathon on the 2 April 2017 for Alzheimer’s Society, which I’m training hard for and I’ve nearly reached my £400 fundraising target.

And finally… if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
“I’d love to go to America and do a tour of Nashville, Tennessee, Memphis etc. – all the county states listening to music in each place I visit.”