The CAT is an evidence-based alert tool designed to identify and triage the needs of people who are providing support to a family member or friend at home as an unpaid carer. Originally developed for use with unpaid carers providing end of life care at home it is now being used with carers who are providing support to patients with a range of long-term and progressive conditions, as well as those receiving palliative and end of life care.
The CAT has 10 short questions that ask a carer whether they need any support across two main areas of caring; support needed to provide care and support needed for their own health and well-being. The CAT provides a clear visual guide to the current level of need as each question has a traffic light system to score the level of need for each of alerts as low (green), medium (amber), or high (red) and an image of a thermometer to mark the total number of alerts.
Over 450 people in 15 countries have registered to access the CAT and resources from the website since 2014 (updated 26.06.19).
A range of charity and National Health Service (NHS) organisations are working with us to pilot use of the CAT with their teams. For example, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) and Clatterbridge Cancer Centre are using it to improve carer support.
The CAT is simple to use and can be introduced by anyone who is involved in the care or providing support to the carer. Carers have told us they prefer for any discussion of their needs to be with someone whom they have a relationship with so the CAT is designed to be used by a range of people including health and social care practitioners and non-registered staff such as volunteers. The CAT is completed jointly by the carer and person who has introduced it to facilitate discussion and support the carer to prioritise any needs identified. Following this discussion an action plan for the prioritised alerts is agreed and a date set for the next review. A short video on how to use the CAT is available on the resources page once you have registered.
The CAT is copyright but is available for use, free of charge.
More information about the project and use of the CAT can be found on this website. Up-to-dates will also be posted regularly. We hope that you will enjoy finding out more about the study and the work of the EPRC team at Edge Hill University. This website presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0909-20188). The views expressed are those of the research team and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.Register for CAT to access supporting materials
Carers Alert Thermometer for Stroke (CAT-S)
Every year in the United Kingdom (UK) approximately 152,000 people suffer a stroke. At present, there are nearly 1.2 million stroke survivors living in the UK. The effects of stroke to individuals varies depending on the part of the brain that is affected. Nevertheless, the common effects include; limb weakness usually to one side of the body, problems with thinking and memory, difficulties with speaking and in some cases bladder and bowel dysfunction.
The majority of stroke survivors rely on family caregivers to provide assistance with their activities of daily living ranging from physical help to psychological support. However, the support and information needs of the family caregivers are not always met and they often experience deterioration of their own health and wellbeing. Early identification of the family caregivers’ needs and support is, therefore, important in order to sustain their caring role.
The aim of the study
Our research aims to adapt the original CAT specifically for use with family caregivers of stroke survivors. The adapted version was drafted in the course of Emmie Malewezi’s PhD study at Edge Hill University. With support from the Stroke Association, Emmie consulted with stroke health professionals and family caregivers, to develop an adapted version of CAT for family caregivers of stroke survivors. This adaptation is known as CAT-S.
“The Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association has good evidence about the impact of MND on carers, and we are continually reviewing the type and level of support that we offer them to relieve some of the stress and pressures of this demanding role. The Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT) is proving to be a useful tool for identifying carers’ needs, enabling us to increase our support, if necessary, and signpost the carer to other services. We are aiming to roll the use of the CAT tool out more widely across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to help us support and reach out to even more carers in the future.”Hilary Fairfield (Regional Delivery Manager for the South, MND Association)
“I am a former Carer who looked after an elderly relative from advent of disability through to end of life which pretty much encompasses most situations likely to arise. Whilst I cannot promise to relieve your individual situation I can offer a pointer to a service that was NOT available at the time I was coping with the end of life of my “loved one”. For far too long carers have been left to “get on with it”, but now there is a new way of addressing the difficult situation carers can/do find themselves in with Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT).
Due to my involvement in the work at Edge Hill University I was one of many carers invited to contribute to the design of the CAT. It has been designed to keep questions to a minimum, reducing your time needed to answer, whilst identifying any needs you have and provide suggestions of services or sources of support that would be best suited to your situation. I recommend that all those working with carers explore the use of the CAT in their work and that carers tell others about it. The CAT, resources and information about its development can all be found on this website.“John (Former carer)
“Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, Wirral, is currently piloting the Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT) with carers of patients in the palliative care setting. The CAT is providing a systematic approach to the identification, assessment and management of carer’s holistic needs and will help to ensure that the care and support offered to individuals is personalised, consistent and tailored to their priorities and wishes. The care planning section of the CAT ensures that actions, plans and goals are meaningful and responsive to the changing needs of the person, and makes the review of progress explicit and clear. Assisting carers to manage their own needs will positively impact on the patient’s experience, as the CAT emphasises the patient-carer relationship as an integrated whole.”Julian Hampton-Matthews (Oncology Social Worker) and Lynda Appleton (Research Nurse), Clatterbridge Cancer Centre
In addition to the CAT, there are ongoing studies piloting the CAT-S (for carers of stroke survivors) and the CAT-YC (young carers) which have been developed through PhD studies.
For example, the CAT-S has been piloted with the Stroke Association and is currently being piloted with stroke teams based in hospitals across the North West of England.
A version of the CAT and CAT-S with a new scoring system is being trialled in four sites across the North West and Scotland due to feedback from users that a scoring system would be beneficial for triage purposes. Once the results of these trials have been reviewed it is planned that this will be made available for download from the website for registered users. If you would like to know more now please contact the team.
The CAT has been listed on several websites as an available tool for identifying the needs of unpaid carers including: