On 20 April 2016 we heard personal stories filled with hope, frustration, gratitude, bewilderment, weariness and laughter.

This was our first meeting where we invited carers of people who use our services to talk to us about their experience and to ask if they would consider being our partners as we implement the Triangle of Care (ToC).

ToC is a national framework, developed by carers and NHS staff, to improve carer engagement in mental health services.

We heard from carers who have supported their loved one through a range of mental health conditions, some for more than 20 years. There was optimism (and a little cynicism) about what Triangle of Care could achieve in our Trust. We have of course been here before. We tried to launch Triangle of Care in 2013-14 and many carers and staff worked hard to progress it. For many reasons, the time wasn’t right then.

But the time IS right now – we have the backing of senior managers, the expectations of the people who commission our services (CCGs) and most critically we have a pressing duty to our service users and their families and carers to work more collaboratively.

We deliberately wanted to start Triangle of Care with carers – to meet with them and to invite them to be critical friends who can influence what ToC will look like in the Trust. Co-production is a real buzzword at the moment (and buzzwords can sometimes feel a bit hollow) but for us what it means in practice is, ‘nothing about me without me.’

And so we have started the process of forming a Carers Steering Group. Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 25 May, 6–7.30pm at Carers Leeds. After that we will meet on the first Wednesday of the month, 6–7.30pm. All carers are welcome and as the group and its roles evolve, we will extend the ways that carers can join in.

Anyone interested in getting involved can contact us by:

We look forward to meeting more carers, hearing more stories and ultimately improving services.

Dr Louise Bergin

 Clinical Psychologist

and Trust Lead for Triangle of Care

Stephen Taylor

 Service Delivery Manager

Carers Leeds & LYPFT