The main issues
While most of Manchester’s carers are not known, for example to social care services, an estimated 90% access a primary care service. They visit either with the person they care for and/or for themselves. So GP practices are ideally placed to identify carers, to register them and to link them to the information and support available. This enables carers to cope better and reduces the likelihood of carers in crisis.
What’s in place already
- The GP standard for carers (Manchester Standard 7) sets out why and how GP practices will work to identify and support carers
- The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Carers Charter from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, are just two of the commitments being made to carers under health/care devolution
- In Manchester, the prospectus for the new Local Care Organisation recognises carers and support for carers as important to achieving better health and care outcomes for all
- The GP Federations have held meetings and workshops involving carers organisations
- Several GP practices already identify carers, or have a carers group, or provide information for carers
- local and national resources to help GPs engage with carers
What you need to know
If carers are not high on your GP practice’s agenda, they should be. Quite simply, carers are under-recognised and under-supported. Which means more of them are likely to become unwell and then arrive in your surgery. Knowing who your carers are is the first step. Then you can keep in touch with them about what information and support is available – or make sure you include them in what’s going on, such as carers health checks.
National research shows the effect of caring on carers’ health:
- Carers caring for over 50 hours per week are more than twice as likely to report that they are in poor health than non-carers in the population
- 83% of carers reported negative impact on their physical health
- 87% of carers reported negative impact on their mental health
- 39% had put off treatment for themselves due to caring
- 61% thought regular breaks from caring would improve their health.
In Manchester 48% of carers say either they are neglecting themselves or sometimes can’t look after themselves well enough (Survey of Adult Carers in England 2016/17, Manchester City Council).
Things you should or could be doing
- if you have a carers register, check whether it is being used and if it’s up to date
- raise awareness of carers and carers issues with your patients and carers – there are so many ways to do this and posters, leaflets, display screens, events, and conversations are just some of them
- raise awareness of carers and carers issues with your staff teams
- get someone in your practice to be your Carers’ Champion – a great way to keep carers issues at the forefront, and can act as main point of contact with Manchester Carers Network
- Coming soon – neighbourhood training for GP practices in carer awareness and what support is available for carers