Supporting Parent Carers Health and Wellbeing
Chris Morris, Professor of Child Health Research and leader of the Peninsula Childhood Disability Research Unit (PenCRU), has been working with parent carers from the Family Faculty for the ESRC-IAA funded project, Healthy Parent Carers.
This programme is designed to improve parent carers’ health and wellbeing by promoting empowerment, confidence, and resilience. Parent carers often prioritise the needs of their children, stepping back from work and hobbies. This can lead to them losing social contacts, affecting their health and their ability to care for their children.
The Children and Families Act 2014, NHS England’s Commitment to Carers, and The NHS Long Term Plan all recognise carers are at risk of poor health due to a lack of support, financial concerns, stress and social isolation. Public Health England advocates community-based approaches to improving health and wellbeing. Existing public health promotion is perceived as insensitive to parent carers’ experience. There remains a lack of public health interventions that promote the health of parent carers.
The Healthy Parent Carers (HPC) programme is a modular peer-led group-based health promotion programme. The HPC programme has been systematically and iteratively developed with parent carers in the Family Faculty public involvement group since 2014. It has been designed to be delivered as a face-to-face group programme, which involves a series of daytime or evening weekly group sessions.
The programme is led by parent carer Lead and Assistant Facilitators. It involves working with others in a group to make small changes in their daily lives to improve their health and wellbeing. Working in groups with others who have a similar experience helps carers create a shared ‘social identity’, which supports more effective behavioural changes.
With face-to-face groups not being possible to deliver during the pandemic, an online version of the programme has also been developed, meaning they can reach parent carers unable to attend a group in person.
Following refinements to the manuals, Healthy Parent Carers is now being delivered in multiple locations across the UK, from Exmouth to Tyneside. The programme is currently in further phases of training pairs of facilitators with various partners, including Local Authority, Parent Carer Forums and charities, so they can continue to deliver in new areas.
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