The importance of school, practice and district nurses to support carers of all ages was highlighted by the QNI's Supporting Nurses to Support Carers conference on 9 March.
The day-long conference highlighted the key questions community nurses can ask carers to ensure that they are properly supported.
Wendy Nicholson, the professional officer for school and community nurses at PHE, says that community nurses are often forgotten about and the emphasis is put on secondary care to support carers. 'The community is where we can make a real impact,' she said.
Ms Nicholson highlighted the challenges of a lack of funding in carers resources but appealed to the nurses to recognise resources that already exist and to forge links with them, to ensure that carers get referred on to the correct services.
It was also raised that there should be more involvement of the carer around discharge planning for the cared for as they are considered the experts in their family members condition.
The day comprised of a variety of speakers including Joan Bennett, Liverpool CCG carers lead, discussing the difficulty of providing an investment case for carers, Lauren Goddard, a young carer describing her experiences in caring for her mother and Dame Philippa Russell DBE, chair emeritus standing commissioner on carers and special adviser on disability and carers, who spoke about carer's live and roles. She explained that she had been a carer for many years which had lead her to champion carers and their needs.
Dame Philippa said: 'It is important to create a synergy between young and old carers. They may be able to learn from each other and support form other carers is vital.'
Crystal Oldman, the chief executive of the QNI, opened the conference by highlighting that there are 6 million carers in the UK with 166,000 young carers. The number of carers is set to rise to 9 million by 2037.
The conference also highlighted that carers should not be seen as just carers but as the people they are, and that there are positives to becoming a carer. 'It teaches resilience and responsibility and in the case of young carers, they often go into caring professions such as social work or nursing. In this way we need to support our future workforce,' said Ms Nicholson.
The conference also marked the launch of a series of resources created by the QNI for school and practice nurses to support carers in both their physical and mental health.