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Fact sheet

Setting Up Carers' Leads in GP Practices

How is the initiative run?
The Carers’ Centre makes contact with the practice manager of a surgery to discuss the role. They usually meet with the practice manager and work out together which member of the surgery staff would be the most suited to working as a Carers Lead. It could be anyone from the GP to one of the receptionists. It can depend on what a practice needs to do in order to improve their carer support and identification. If they need to work on their carers’ register then an administrator is usually the best person for the role.

In some practices the Carers’ Centre appointed two or three Carers Leads where the staff members in question were part-time workers. If there is a carer amongst the practice staff that is often an obvious choice but anyone who is enthusiastic about the role can make a great lead. In one practice they appointed a volunteer driver to be the carers’ lead. He was a suitable candidate because the nature of his volunteer role meant that he had pleny of time carry out the role.

Once the carers’ lead has been appointed they attend a training day with the Carers’ Centre along with other leads from other practices. This takes place in an external venue and the leads are provided with a nice lunch. There they are given training on how to carry out their role. The Carers’ Centre informs them on how to create a referral pathway, how to set up a carers’ register, and informs them about the local services available to carers. After they have attended the training the Carers’ Centre stays in touch with them either via email, telephone or face-to-face – depending on the carers’ leads’ preferences – and offers support for them in their role and informal supervisions, checking in about their progress.

What methods have been particularly effective?
Getting enthusiastic members of staff on board as the leads has been invaluable. If they are interested in the cause they are likely to have the motivation to carry out the role really effectively.

Also, the Carers’ Centre always celebrates the successes the carers’ leads have achieved. They send press releases and photos to local newspapers about how a named surgery has, for example doubled the figures on their carers register. That is their way of rewarding the surgeries. It means they get good publicity and it’s often a junior member of staff who is the carer’s lead and they receive positive feedback and a bit of a boost at work. It helps to keep them motivated too.

Have there been any challenges along the way?
The biggest challenge when trying to engage practices is when there is a lack of awareness in staff and fears that you are going to interfere in their practice. That makes it all the more important to demonstrated the business case for them working with the centre: in fact your organisation will help them save money and is offering support!

What hints and tips might help me get started?
Carers’ Officer Neil says ‘I find it helps to take a carer in with you – that creates an emotional impact and engages people with the case for carers.’

Reassure the practice managers that Carers’ Leads are not expected to give up lots of time to the role but certain tasks could fit into their existing work load, e.g. updating carers’ register, sending out letters, updating notice boards etc.

Where possible make a business case to the practice manager so they can see that the support you can give their patients will have a positive impact financially and clinically i.e. decrease non-attendance figures, reduce consultation times, increase disease recognition in the patient population such as heart disease, hypertension among others and increase in positive patient feedback from surveys if seen to be helping and supporting carers.

When supporting your carers’ leads it’s important to treat them as individuals and be aware of their needs and their existing responsibilities – they are busy people.
Neil recommends, where possible, to use one referral pathway for all practices as this will save you time.

Are there any useful documents that can assist me?
Carers’ Centre - Bath and North East Somerset have made available their Carers Lead Training Manual as well as the role description.

Carers’ Centre - Bath and North East Somerset's Carers Lead Training Manual (0.9 MB)

Carers’ Centre - Bath and North East Somerset's Carers Lead Role Description (24 KB)

Where can I get further information?
Neil Drinkwater
Carers’ Centre - Bath and North East Somerset
Riverside Cottages
Telephone: 01761 431388

When was this information collected?
April 2012