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Fact sheet

Overhauling a GP Practices Carers' register

What is the initiative?
‘Engaging GP Practices in the Support of Carers’
Working with practices to refresh and develop their carers registers and refer or signpost registered carers to local statutory and voluntary support services. Also encouraging practices to support and involve registered carers, both as expert partners in care and where possible, via Patient Participation Groups.

Who runs it?
Worcestershire Association of Carers as the leading partner in a consortium with two other carers’ organisations - Crossroads Care Worcestershire and Redditch Carers Careline – called ‘Carers Action Worcestershire’.

Who does it benefit?
Carers by encouraging them to self-identify and register their caring status with their GP practice and signposting/referring them to statutory and voluntary support services as appropriate. By providing GP practices with display materials and literature, carers are kept aware of local support services. It also aims to support and involve carers by encouraging clinicians to involve carers as ‘expert partners in care’ and encouraging clinicians to enquire after the health of the carer.
It also benefits the GP Practices because it increases the identification of carers within their practice, keeps their records up-to-date through regular audits of the carers register, helps to ensure that carers amongst their Practice are made aware of local support services, and increases the number of carers they have on their carers register. Encouraging clinicians to involve carers as ‘expert partners in care’ can aid diagnosis and treatment of health issues for the cared-for.

What does it do?
The initiative is based in self-assessments of how effective GP Practices are in developing their carers’ registers and supporting carers in general. The GP Engagement Worker from Worcestershire Association of Carers then works with the GP Practice to develop an action plan to increase the number of registered carers in their surgery, signpost/refer registered carers to statutory/voluntary support services, encourage practice staff to support the healthcare of carers and encourage clinicians to involve carers as ‘expert partners in care’, and set achievable targets to measure the increase in registered carers. The GP Engagement Worker then supports the GP Practice to realise these goals, and to maintain carer identification, registration, support and involvement in the future.

When did it take place?
From 1 June 2010 until 31 March 2012

Why was it started?
Worcestershire County Council undertook a county-wide review of the services available to provide carers with support, both statutory and voluntary, and noted that there is was a low number of identified carers. The review identified that the first point of contact for the vast majority of new carers was their GP practice, and that existing carers were in regular contact with their GP practice for their own health or the health of the cared-for.

The review also identified that the number one priority for new carers was to receive information about local support services at the earliest opportunity. This led to GP engagement becoming a part of the wider work that Worcestershire Association of Carers undertakes.

What are the aims and objectives?

  • To increase carer identification
  • To signpost and/or refer carers to support services
  • To increase the number of carers on GP Practice carers registers
  • To effectively maintain Practices’ carers registers
  • To encourage clinicians to support the health needs of carers
  • To encourage clinicians to involve carers as ‘expert partners in care’ regarding the health needs of the cared-for

How is it funded?
The initiative has been funded by the Joint Commissioning Unit, Health and Social Care for Worcestershire.

What has it achieved?
Different levels of success have been achieved with different practices, dependent on a range of factors: how good the practice was at identifying carers in the first-place; how enthusiastic the practice is/was about engagement; how long the initiative has been running within different practices; etc.

However, there has been definite and measureable improvement across the Practices who are part of the initiative and in some cases there has been a 140% increase in the number of carers on a practice carers register, although it is worth noting that the pure accuracy of carer register figures at any point in time will be affected by carers leaving the practice or the death of the cared-for.

Practices who received Carer Awareness Training reported measurable achievement against the following outcomes:

  • Improved understanding of carers’ issues
  • Improved confidence to deal with carers’ issues
  • Improved willingness to involve carers in patient consultations
  • Improved knowledge of carer support services
  • Improved willingness to refer carers to appropriate support services

By providing practices with a joint carer registration and referral card, more than 550 carers received information, advice and support from Worcestershire Association of Carers. These carers reported measurable positive achievement against all 7 carer outcomes listed in the National Carers Strategy.

Awareness of carers and local support services reached a wider audience through contact with a large range of statutory and voluntary agencies across the county.

How have carers been involved in planning and delivering this work?
Local carers were members of the GP Carers Sub Group set up by the County Council to steer and monitor the progress of the initiative. Other members of the group included the Chief Officer and GP Engagement Worker(s) from Worcestershire Association of Carers, a representative from the Joint Commissioning Unit, a representative from statutory carer support services and a representative from hospital carer support services.

For more information on how to do something similar in your area, click on the link to see Setting up and overhauling a GP Practice's Carers' Register