Publish date: 7 June 2021

Gillian Kelly (pictured left, the Trust’s Deputy Director of Nursing) and Debbie Best (pictured right, a carer for a patient at West London Forensic Services) talk about their role as co-chairs of the Trust’s Carers’ Council.

Gillian Kelly: I have worked in a variety of roles within the Trust since June 2000, when I started out as a newly qualified mental health nurse. 18 of the 20 years working in the NHS, have been here at West London. I have and continue to enjoy working here. I have seen the organisation grow and develop and I’m committed to supporting the Trust as it works to provide the best possible care to those who use our services. West London NHS Trust has been a place where I have been able to develop as a professional and a leader and I am privileged to be in a role where I am able to do what I love.

Debbie Best: I became a carer for my son when he was initially sectioned 11 years ago. My journey with the Trust has mostly been a positive one, but also has its frustrations and challenges, hence my reason for getting involved; sharing my lived experiences, as that’s where change starts to happen. 

Gillian Kelly: The co-chair role is an absolute honour and I wanted to do this because I care passionately that my leadership translates into the best possible outcomes and experience for the people who use our services, their families and friends. I am also passionate about co-production and creating spaces where staff and carers can question, think and work together. I’m genuinely excited by the opportunity to learn together, share good practice and be able to identify and drive forward initiatives that will enhance service users and carers experiences.

Debbie Best: It’s a great opportunity to work collaboratively with the Trust, to reach as many carers as possible, to get their voices heard and encourage them to get more involved. They can do so by supporting the strategic development of the Trust, as well as addressing inequalities, disparities, and improving overall carer representation.

Gillian Kelly: The Carers’ Council aims to ensure that the carers’ collective voice is heard and reaches the heart of the organisation. This is important for so many reasons; not least to improve patient and carer experience, but also there is massive value in carers and staff coming together, connecting, building good working relationships and developing a shared understanding of each other’s experiences and perspectives. Read more about our commitment to the Triangle of Care.

Debbie Best: The Carers’ Council is essential for the Trust. It will allow carers to get their voices heard, be taken seriously, feel valued and trusted whilst working in collaboration to address change in attitudes, processes and outdated practices that no longer serve a purpose in the Trust. Professionals are experts in their field in the same way that carers are the experts by experience for those they are caring for. 

Gillian Kelly: Come and see what we are doing or drop me a line. I’m always happy to hear from carers, to understand their experience and to talk about the opportunities to get involved.

Debbie Best: If I was to give advice to a carer thinking about joining the Council, it would be, think about the change you would like to see and let's make it happen.

If you’re a carer at the Trust and want to join the Carers’ Council, click here.