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Fact sheet

Identification - Scotland

Identification of carers by GPs and Primary Care staff

NHS Carer Information Strategies must as a minimum demonstrate how they will promote carer identification and the provision of targeted information to carers by GPs and Primary Care staff. This should demonstrate the link between practice involvement and the GMS contract Quality and Outcomes Framework, Practice Management Indicator 9 involving carer identification and referral as well as activity to set up carer registers in line with the Direct Enhanced Services Directions 2006.

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers Focus on Carers Initiative has developed successful methodologies and models of good practice to identify and support carers through joint work between Primary Care Practices and local Carers' Centres. Below are a couple of key examples as well as a carers checklist.

Minority Ethnic Development Worker – The Princess Royal Trust South Glasgow Carers' Centre

This post, funded by Glasgow City Council through Carers Strategy money, has effectively used direct publicity material to encourage carers from the local minority ethnic community to come forward for advice and support. The worker was involved in providing direct contact and support to carers in addition to providing culturally sensitive translated materials. This encouraged members of the local minority ethnic community to approach Carers' Centre staff for support. Translated materials were also collected to create a library for carers and professionals which complements the existing Carers' Centre resource material.

The worker also raised the profile of minority ethnic carers by making presentations to local voluntary and statutory organisations, and by establishing work in venues such as the elderly daycare project based in Glasgow Central Mosque. In the first six months of this post the worker identified 240 carers, and 155 of those were as a direct result of the Focus on Carers Initiative.

Family Medical Group and the Princess Royal Trust Dundee Carers' Centre

Each member of the practice and attached staff was asked to examine their workloads in terms of identification of carers over a month. All staff were asked to participate and each member of staff was allocated funded and protected time to identify carers.

For some staff this meant an examination of their current caseload. For GPs and practice nurses it meant 'thinking carer' for every contact with a patient/relative no matter what the type of health issue being addressed in the consultation/appointment. For the reception and administrative staff it was their extensive knowledge of patients and their individual circumstances that was established, confirmed and used in identifying carers who regularly use the surgery services.

The busy workloads of all primary care staff meant that it was not always possible to consider every contact as a possible carer and as a result in the first two weeks only a small number of carers were identified. It was decided that some form of prompt was needed, and for the final three weeks reception and/or administrative staff had attached one of the referral forms to every set of medical records for every patient appointment. This greatly increased the numbers identified.

A Checklist for GPs and Primary Health Care Staff

  • Have you identified those of your patients who are carers, and patients who have a carer?
  • Do you refer carers to local sources of advocacy, help and support, including Carers’ Centres or carers support groups?
  • Do you take carers’ special needs into account in terms of the way you allocate appointments, your procedures for issuing prescriptions and your arrangements in the waiting room?
  • Do you check carers’ physical and emotional health whenever a suitable opportunity arises, and at least once a year?
  • Do you routinely tell carers that they can ask Social Services for an assessment of their own needs?
  • Do you always ask patients who have carers whether they are happy for health information about them to be told to their carer?
  • Do you give carers information about the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis for the person they care for and about medication and its side effects?
  • Do you arrange for carers to have information or training to help them to care safely, particularly on lifting, moving and handling the person they care for?
  • Do you ensure that there are leaflets and notice boards in the surgery to give information to carers about services and support which are available and to encourage them to identify themselves as carers to the practice?
  • Are you willing to help with the establishment of a surgery-based carers support group?