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Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT)

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.

Who can use the CAT?
Hands, phone and laptop. Someone is taking part in an online conference.

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.


Hilary Fairfield (Regional Delivery Manager for the South, MND Association)
John (former carer)
Julian Hampton-Matthews (Oncology Social Worker) and Lynda Appleton (Research Nurse), Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

CAT resources

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:

Useful links

Gold Standards Framework Carers UK The Princess Royal Trust for Carers Macmillan Cancer Relief Help the Hospices Dying Matters Bereavement Advice Centre The National Council for Palliative Care

Our team