Coach4care is a new service created by the Innovation Unit. Coach4care helps carers improve their resilience and wellbeing so that they can give kind and loving care. It also helps ex-carers turn their experiences into meaningful support for others.
Over the past year the Innovation Unit to create new solutions in end of life care in a project called Better Endings. This has involved bringing together end of life care experts, members of the community and private sector organisations to design solutions that improve the lives of people living and dying in Lambeth and Southwark.
This piece of work has involved ethnographic interviews and co-design workshops with 12 carers and ex-carers, 3 caring organisations, 14 voluntary and community organisation, 15 health professionals and 20 professional coaches. We have also held various events to energise different stakeholders and the local community and built a database of over 150 people who are keen to be involved and/or have played an active role in shaping the thinking so far.
The research identified that carers face significant challenges and struggle to care for themselves. Caring for someone else requires a huge amount of resilience and in order for carers to provide the best care possible, they need practical and emotional support and they need to care for themselves. Carers also want to seen to be acknowledged for the contribution they make and recognised as the experts they have become. The goals of the project were to:
help carers keep their identity and resilience by increasing social and practical support to better cope with negative experiences and allow more positive experiences both before and after death;
provide and increase support and recognition so that carers feel valued and competent and that their role has meaning; and
help ex-carers gain the skills and tools to have structured conversations with existing carers so they can increase their self care.
We used these goals to co-create a new service over a series of 5 workshops with carers, ex-carers, health professionals, caring organisations, professional coaches and designers. The outcome is a new service called Coach4care.
Coach4care would support those who are caring for someone at the end of their life to improve their resilience and well-being through coaching from experienced carers using research based tools.
Anyone who is caring for a loved one who is dying learns a lot about how to care. What is challenging is sustaining energy and resilience throughout the caring journey so people can give the best possible care to their loved ones. Coach4care would help carers through coaching to help them reflect on their situation and take action to improve their well-being and the well-being of those they care for. Our research suggest that carers know their situation best and that they will learn best from reflecting on their own experience rather than being given advice. They also have the best chance of coming up with solutions that will work for them and our coaches would be there to help unlock the answers within them.
Our research has also suggested that experienced carers are best placed to support people who are caring for a dying person because they truly understand what it is like. Ex-carers would receive support from professional coaches to develop their expertise. They would receive recognised training and would be able to use their previous experience and their new skills in a rewarding and meaningful way. Ex-carer coaches would take a specific interest in carers and help them to improve their resilience and wellbeing by developing positive coping strategies.
How does it work?
Coach4care is facilitated by St Christopher’s Hospice in partnership with a coaching organisation. In this model, Hospice staff and skilled coaches run coaching training for ex-carers. Training courses and coaching experience can result in qualifications if desired. Coaches can use the Coach4care coaching tools to support carers through their journey. Elements of this service include:
Care and support for people who are dying and their main carer through the role of a coach. Coaching could either take place in the home, or in a local community base, the Hospice, coffee shop or, if the carer or supporter was housebound, by Skype or over the phone.
Coaches are trained to use a coaching syllabus that highlights tools that coaches can use to reflect on their situation and develop solutions, encourage them to engage in positive activities, manage negative emotions and think about how they can utilise their social network to gain further social and practical support.
Learning lunches and support sessions for coaches to provide supervision and learn from each other
Learning lunches for carers as an additional support to meet others going through the same experiences and have a little fun
Access to a helpline that carers can ring in a moment of anxiety or for practical advice
Supervision sessions where professional coaches give supervision to ex-caregiver coaches
Facilitated session with family and friends to increase support for the primary caregiver
Links to medical professionals who provide carers with information around caring for the dying etc. and treat them as equal partners.
The double diamond coaching model
This is a new coaching model that carers and coaches can use in their sessions together. It also provides tools they may want to use in their own time to help them reflect on their experiences and develop new coping strategies.
Innovation Unit project
Project date: 2017 August- 2018 January
Better Endings project team: Perrie Ballantyne, Sarah Dew, Sonia Kneepkens