Role descriptors: a great tool to get carers involved in your work

Do you have a bit of a challenge getting mental health carers involved in your work? Perhaps they’re not joining the group you’ve set up and you’d really like to hear about their “lived experience” and the many “insights” they’ve picked up along the rocky road that is called “care”.

Well, you’re in the right place. Because I can tell you about a very simple, nifty tool – a role descriptorthat can really help you.

Role descriptors frame what’s expected of you and carers in very explicit but simple terms.

Role descriptors are normally a couple of pages long and tend to include six pieces of really important information for the mental health carer:

1 – Background and timeframe. Aim/purpose/vision of group, project, task.

2 – Carer Role. What you’d like the carers to do (in a group you might like them to represent and liaise eg).

3 – Carer experience and skills – essential/desirable. I’ve found these really help the carer reflect/be able to detail the skills that they already have; and perhaps want to share with others. Putting it in jargon, public affairs speak they “help the carer map their innate assets”.

4 – Carer support. How are you going to help them in their role? If it’s joining a group you might like to provide them with a handbook, training, pre-meetings eg).

5 – Reward and recognition/Payment. Not everyone will want to take a monetary reward. Often they’re really confused and frightened as to whether they should declare it to the tax people. So please help carers out by directing them to expert help and information on this complex  issue.

6 – Who to contact and response time. Give very clear information about who to contact if you’re thinking of getting actively involved; and how long it’s likely to take to get a response to their query. It’s very easy to lose people at the first hurdle with poor communication. None of us want that!

Best of luck!

A little bit about me: I am a member (mental carer representative and campaigner) of the Reading Mental Wellbeing Group (RMWG). One of my recent projects has been trying to help the group better incorporate the “seldom heard voice” (including people who use mental health services and their unpaid carers – family and friends) into our work/meetings.

The group was specifically set up to:

“Provide a central point for the voices of mental health service users and carers to be heard and acted upon.

Ensure that the profile of mental health issues is raised and that outcomes for people who use mental health services and their carers are improved.”

Among many other things . . .

It includes a range of local “stakeholders” (people who are interested and involved in helping improve mental health services for everyone).  It’s chaired by the lead on community mental health in Reading who works for Berkshire Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Special blog written for Reading Mental Wellbeing Group to help us in our work together; and help promote our vision to those who might be interested in getting involved.


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