The Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT): identifying the support needs of family carers of people living with MND (plwMND)

Mary O'Brien, Katherine Knighting, Barbara Jack, Hilary Fairfield, Neil Drinkwater

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceLecturepeer-review


    Background The substantial burden and distress experienced by family carers of people living with MND (plwMND) is reported widely within the published literature. Consequently there have been calls for interventions to improve the care provided to carers. The Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT) is an evidence-based quick and easy to use alert tool completed collaboratively by carers and non-specialist health staff to identify the needs of carers of family members with cancer and advanced progressive illness in their last year of life. The CAT has 10 questions to identify the support needed by the carer to provide care and for the carer’s own health and well-being; a traffic light system indicates the level of need for each alert and a visual thermometer identifies the extent of the carer’s needs. A guidance section can be tailored to local services and there is an action plan to complete with review dates (for more details see Objective We set out to modify the CAT and pilot it with family carers of plwMND to determine its usefulness in identifying their need for support. Programme Description A workshop was held with MND Association Visitors (AVs), Regional Care Development Advisers (RCDAs) and a Regional Delivery Manager (RDM) to review the CAT, provide training on its implementation and demonstrate resources including a DVD. Workshop participants piloted the CAT with family carers of plwMND during routine appointments over a four month period. Feedback on the utility of the CAT was obtained through self-completion of an online survey and telephone interview. Clinical Outcomes The AVs and RCDAs who trialled it found the CAT very useful in their discussions with family carers and intended to continue using it. It was particularly felt to be beneficial for monitoring changes in the caring role as the disease progresses. Recommendations to the field Participants in the pilot found the CAT to be relevant and feasible. It is an easy to use tool to facilitate discussions with MND family carers regarding their own specific needs and how these may be addressed. Use of the CAT with carers supports the MND Association’s mission to ensure that support is there not just for the person diagnosed with MND, but for the relatives and friends who care for them too.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 May 2016
    Event14th Annual Allied Professionals Forum - Dublin, Ireland
    Duration: 6 Dec 2016 → …


    Conference14th Annual Allied Professionals Forum
    Period6/12/16 → …


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