Adele Pacini is a registered mindfulness teacher and chartered clinical psychologist specialising in older adult mental healthcare. She has a particular interest in the mental health needs of both carers and former carers. She holds academic affiliations with UCL and the Open University.
Parent carers of children with special educational needs have an increased risk of mental and physical ill-health [1,2]. It remains problematic to engage parent carers in wellbeing support , with many parents not perceiving themselves as ‘carers’ . Following low uptake to our Mindfulness for Parent Carers (MPC) group we carried out a formative evaluation and utilised ecological theory aligned with public health goals as outlined by Atkins et al . We examined whether expressions of interest (EOI), and applications to, the MPC group were increased by aligning the promotion of the group with parent carer’s identity and through settings that support that identity.
For intake one, the course was promoted as ‘Mindfulness for Parent Carers’ via email, poster and telephone contacts to local carer charities, NHS services, and the voluntary action mailing list (a reach of 1,300 individuals). For intake two the course was promoted as ‘Mindfulness for Parents who Care’ via local workplace settings (18) and primary and secondary schools (397 including 15 special needs schools).
For the EOI questionnaire, fourteen people completed the EOI questionnaire for intake one, and seventeen people for intake two. The difference was not significant (X2(1) = 0.29 p = 0.59). For full applications, intake one had one application; intake two had six applications. There were significantly more applications made in intake two than intake one X2 (1) = 3.57, p = 0.05.
Aligning intervention promotional material with both parent carer’s primary identity (ie a parent first), and setting (ie schools/workplace) resulted in a significantly greater number of applications to the MPC group. However, numbers were low across both intakes, and thus more work is needed to understand how to work with parent carers and offer support how and when they need it.
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