CAMPAIGNS: Sharing caring experiences - Health PR

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (PRTC) works at a local level through a network of 70 PRTC Centres providing information, support and practical help to make it easier for carers to cope. A carer is anybody who is helping to look after a partner, relative or friend who, because of old age, long-term illness or disability would otherwise be unable to manage at home without help.

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (PRTC) works at a local level

through a network of 70 PRTC Centres providing information, support and

practical help to make it easier for carers to cope. A carer is anybody

who is helping to look after a partner, relative or friend who, because

of old age, long-term illness or disability would otherwise be unable to

manage at home without help.



Objectives



To raise awareness of the PRTC and its expertise, and evaluate the ways

in which the centres were meeting the needs of carers.



Tactics



Because of budget restrictions and the fact that the trust only has a PR

team of two, it was decided to tackle both objectives together through a

questionnaire that would provide the information needed by both the

operations and press and PR division.



A steering group, including PRTC head of press and PR Lesley Warner, was

established. Three key areas of concern to carers were identified:

whether a carer is consulted when somebody is discharged from hospital;

whether carers believe that GPs are aware of their needs; and, as carers

are undertaking many medical tasks, whether they receiving any

training?



All centres were given the option of taking part in the survey and over

a third chose to do so. Participating carers’ centres were supplied with

questionnaires for distribution and from the 7,000 questionnaires

distributed, nearly 2,000 were returned.



Initial analysis of the results showed that the majority of carers were

caring for somebody for eight hours or more each day. It was decided to

focus on the large number and experiences of these full-time carers. The

PR team produced a provisional summary of the report’s findings to use

as a teaser, initially targeting features pages before releasing the

formal report, called ’Taken for Granted?’.



A core press release was written for the national and specialist press

which explained how carers are ’overworked and undervalued’ and a

template release for use by local carers centres were prepared, together

with guidelines on distribution and briefing notes for spokespeople.



A number of carers who took part in the research said they would speak

to the press, and were interviewed by the PR team to build up a bank of

strong human-interest stories.



Darling Buds of May star, Pam Ferris, was also fielded by PRTC for

interview.



The report launch was timed to coincide with a Government-wide review of

measures to help carers led by Health Minister Paul Boateng. The

Government findings should be published early next year.



Results



Media coverage was impressive, particularly among regional press and

radio. Out of the national media, the Daily Telegraph and the Times, the

Guardian, BBC’s Breakfast News, GMTV and Radio 1’s You and Yours covered

the story.



The majority of regional radio stations talked to Gerry Mahaffey, the

PRTC’s London regional co-ordinater, via a link from Broadcasting House

in London, so that carers and experts were able to debate the key

issues.



Following the campaign, the PRTC received a large number of calls from

people who hadn’t realised they were carers or did not know about the

support available through the charity.



Verdict



By encouraging carers to tell their stories, the PRTC was able to offer

the media strong human-interest angle toback to its report findings as

well as alerting other carers to the existence of the PRTC. It will have

to wait and see if the report’s recommendations for improvements in

support for carers and communication between them and the authorities

will be included in the Government review.



Client: The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Taken for Granted?

Timescale: Sept ’97 - Sept ’98

Budget: Undisclosed



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