Ensuring that the 5.4 million people in England who care for a friend or family member are valued, recognised and supported, is enshrined in the Department of Health’s mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board (now NHS England). One key objective is particularly relevant – “to ensure the NHS becomes dramatically better at involving patients and their carers, and empowering them to manage and make decisions about their own care and treatment.”

To help achieve this, NHS England and NHS Improving Quality are working to develop a series of ‘commitments for action’ that NHS England will take forward. These will be agreed at a workshop in December, Commitment for Carers, which will bring together an invited group of carers and care representatives, healthcare professionals, commissioners, senior clinical managers, and allied health professionals.

The first step in this process is a listening exercise, to find out what carers need and want from the NHS.

The exercise will look to engage with carers of every age, and from every aspect of society. In order to reach as many people as possible and ensure a streamlined mechanism to respond, the listening exercise will take place online, utilising social media, existing networks and forums, and direct email.

Over the next five weeks, we will be asking a series of questions, and inviting carers to join the conversation, sharing thoughts, comments, and experiences. What carers tell us will determine the ‘commitments for action’ that we will take forward in order to ensure that carers are recognised, valued and supported.

We will ask one question (or set of questions) each week:

We will also be using Twitter to gather feedback, inviting people to join the conversation using the hashtag #NHSThinkCarer. Questions will be posted each week on the NHS IQ twitter feed (@NHSIQ), and we will ask caring organisations to re-tweet to their followers.

View the Storify of feedback and comments received via Twitter.

You can also complete our questionnaire online, or send your views to enquiries@nhsiq.nhs.uk

The questionnaire is also available for you to print, complete and return to us.

Several blog posts have also been published:

After the workshop, we will publish the commitments for action, and will also work to spread them throughout the health and social care system and other government departments, to ensure carer’s needs and wants are prioritised at every level.

– See more at: http://www.nhsiq.nhs.uk/improvement-programmes/experience-of-care/commitment-for-carers.aspx#sthash.S0GVMZSv.dpuf