Aim The aims of this project were to implement guidance that sought to involve carers of older people in decision-making processes, and to promote practice development through work-based learning.
Method Data were collected and analysed to examine how carer involvement was being managed on the wards. The data were then fed back to staff in each area and meetings were held to discuss which aspects of carer involvement were priorities for them. These were then matched with the four markers of satisfactory involvement identified in a previous study (Walker et al 1999).
Results Several strategies were implemented to enhance carer involvement, including life story work, written communication books and a newsletter. Early feedback from the project highlighted benefits for staff and relatives, which included greater confidence in negotiating care and closer relationships between relatives and staff.
Conclusion If carer involvement in care is to become a reality, staff need support and encouragement to develop meaningful relationships with relatives and to value their expert opinions.