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Fact sheet

In-Surgery appointments for GP Liaison Workers

What is the initiative?
Having a Carer Support Worker in Surgeries on a regular basis, to assist in the identification of carers and provide them with on-going support.

Who runs it?
Carers First (Tonbridge), and Carers Medway.

Who does it benefit?
Carers and those they care for, and GP Practices.

What does it do?
The initiative helps to increase carer identification, increasing the carer’s register within practices and the number of carers accessing the support offered by Carers First. It also supports carers in their caring role, by helping them to maintain their physical and emotional wellbeing by accessing as wide a range of support as possible: both statutory and voluntary.

When did it start?
January 2010.

Why was it started?
The project originally started as a pilot project in just one surgery, as a way if increasing the number of carers identified by the practice and added to their carers register, and carer health checks. The local PCT (West Kent) advertised the opportunity to its practices to increase awareness and engagement.

Originally this was just a new approach to increasing carer awareness and the number of identified carers, but as it began to receive a greater profile amongst those attending the surgery it really took off and has developed into a much wider project across several surgeries.

What are the aims and objectives?
*To increase the numbers on the practice’s carers register
*To raise the profile of carers
*To increase the number of self-referrals amongst carers
*To work with practices to overcome issues around confidentiality
*To increase staff knowledge of caring role and to show impact of Carer Support Worker.

How is it funded?
As a pilot scheme the initiative was originally funded by the PCT, as part of an initiative to encourage more carer health checks, but now funding for Carers First comes from social services: this initiative is funded as a part of the centre’s wider services.

What has it achieved?
As a pilot scheme taking place at three surgeries across Kent, 564 carers were identified over a 15 month period, these were over 3 sites and included 3 separate GP practices and 3 hospitals. The requirement for purpose of original project was 150. These numbers have continued to grow over time, as the project has been rolled-out across more surgeries.

It is worth noting that the first addition to the carers register in one surgery took eight months to achieve, so perseverance is always important: once this first one was added, they started to increase dramatically.

The project has also made a huge difference to the profile of the carers’ organisation, amongst both local carers and to the GP Practices as well, and the success of the project is as much about achieving that professional recognition and local profile, as adding carers to the GPs carers register in the first place.

How have carers been involved in planning and delivering this work?
To successfully deliver this work it has been essential to have local knowledge, and carers have helped to develop this understanding. One area that this has been particularly useful in has been gaining introductions to local organisations, such as Church Groups, who have then promoted the initiative amongst their members.

It has been interesting that because the initiative is based in the local GPs Practice many more groups and individuals have been willing to engage with it. The initiative is seen as having a different level of legitimacy by being something that happens in a local GP Practice than at a more removed carers’ organisation.

Thinking of doing something similar?
Click on the link to see Setting up in-surgery appointments for GP Liaison workers