An Essential Triangle of Care

Note: The following post has been contributed by Carole Cochrane, the Chief Executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers


Wednesday 28th July was another hot day in London (well it was for northern based lass). And like many of my London working days it was crammed with various meetings.

The day started with a breakfast review meeting with The Trust’s Director of Fundraising before we both went off to meet with someone who had recently made a significant donation to The Trust (always good to thank in person).

As I say it was a hot day and by the afternoon I was already feeling pretty tired and dishevelled and I had to change into a new set of clothes. Feeling a bit more like a Chief Executive, I headed off to my last appointment of the day which was to launch the Triangle of Care report at the House of Lords.

Tony Baldry MP, Co-Chair of the APPG and a real supporter of carers, was really the person launching the report. I was asked to speak and although I had some points prepared, after talking to carers there I felt that I wanted to speak as a sister of someone with a ‘severe and enduring’ mental health issue.

I talk to so many carers of someone with a mental health issue, who are often worn down with caring and fighting to get good services and I felt that I needed to speak for my parents, my sister and all those other carers who don’t get the chance to do so.

I know only too well the impact my sister’s illness has had on our family unit and in particular on the health of my elderly parents, who are still the ones that pick up the pieces when my sister is ill and again when she is discharged back into the community, sorting out a flat, furnishing etc.

The Triangle of Care report attempts to bring together the carer; the cared for and the professional and get them all working as partners. So many carers tell me they feel invisible when care packages are being put together but are all too often the ones that have to implement and manage the care.

The essence of the document is to clearly identify the six key elements
required to achieve better collaboration and partnership with carers, with good practice examples and resources.

1. Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter.
2. Staff are ‘carer aware’ and trained in carer engagement strategies.
3. Policy and practice protocols re confidentiality and sharing information are in place.
4. Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.
5. A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the acute care pathway.
6. A range of carer support services is available.

I had a really enjoyable time at the event and spoke to some wonderful carers who I know are hoping that the Triangle of Care becomes everyday practice so their loved ones get the services they so richly deserve.

P.S: had a recent text from my sister who tells me she is really happy – it has been over 25 years since we have heard those words – so I know things are getting better for her and my parents and that is what I am sure those parents that spoke to me on the night long to hear.


August 5, 2010 - Posted by | Carers Strategy, Health, Mental Health | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Carole, the Triangle of Care sounds like an excellent initiative: I look forward to reading the report when I get a spare minute. And very glad to hear that your sister is doing well!

    Comment by Jacq Collins | August 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. I really welcome this initative and am trying not to be cynical about how the professional corner of the triangle will hold up as most often it is in that corner that things fall apart, either because support is lacking, or sporadic and inconsistent and carers – as you rightly say – are left to pick up the pieces. A MH carer I met recently working in the North Lancashire area has been working very closely with services on co-producing the information which is given to patients and carers. This has the effect of (a) recognising the equal status of carers in provision of and informing care; and (b) ensuring that the information is clear and comprehensive so that everyone understands it.

    With regard to engagement – locally I was part of a carer delegation who took the Local Authority to task for paying lip service to engagement of carers in vital consultations as so often is the case. We did get an apology and things appear to have improved since then. This is good when it works out well, but it does add an extra burden on carers to fight their corner, when so often we spend our time continually negotiating and fighting for the services we need!

    What is great is that we have PRTC and Carers UK who are also there supporting carers nationally.

    Comment by Jill Pay | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. the triangle care seems good. however my husband has mental health issues fibremyralgia and lots of others his problems are ongoing and he his very demanding and controlling he often things of suicide. or just wants to stay in bed. having 4 children at home,one has ASD. the latter is easiest for us. when my husband is at lowest he clashes with our 8 year old with ASD. this is exhausting for his mood changes continuously over the day we never know hour by hour what mood hes in.
    i have now been told i have to go to a return to work comment is if i work who then is going to maintain safe home life for my family. my role as carer is made to be nothing yet its vital as my children need stability which my husband can not give as he himself has to have his medication watched over by myself and encouraged to get up bathe eat go outside etc. what will any of this do to help my families situation?

    Comment by andrea st.julien | August 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Dear Andrea
      Your situation sounds very demanding, and that you already have your hands full. Has your husband been assessed and are you getting any support from social services? You should also be assessed as well – you have a right to request an assessment. Your assessment should take into consideration whether you want to work full or part time, and if you do, then social services should be considering what support they can provide to give you the opportunity to do so. This may mean replacement care for your husband and son.

      However, you should not feel pressured into work if you are providing such high levels of care. Before the work interview, it may be worth speaking to your local Carers’ Centre. You can enter your postcode here to find your nearest one:

      Or it may be worth visiting Citizens Advice.
      Good luck Andrea,

      Comment by Gordon | August 16, 2010 | Reply

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