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Fact sheet

Setting-up Coffee Mornings for Carers in GP Practices

How is the initiative run?
The coffee mornings are run as ‘open shops’, where any carer is invited to attend. Members of the GP Practice staff and wider community healthcare practitioners are also able to attend, although the mornings are primarily aimed at carers.

The mornings take place in a spare space in the Practice (e.g. meeting rooms), and take place once a month for approximately two hours. The Carers Centre works with the Practice to agree a time that suits them for the meeting and depending upon the Practice these can be run either in parallel or separately to regular clinics.

The Carers Centre will always offer to supply the tea and coffee and biscuits for the meetings, although often the Practice will meet these costs.

At the meeting carers are able to talk with a member of staff from the Carers Centre, and amongst themselves. In this way they are able to get advice and support, and can also become more aware of the networks that exist to help them. Sometimes a healthcare practitioner or member of Practice Staff will attend the meeting (for example, the Carer Champion within the Practice), who will be able to share their expert knowledge with the carers.

What methods have been particularly effective?
Building partnerships with the GP Practices has been essential in creating a network of coffee mornings. This has been reinforced by developing on-going relationships with the Practice; making the aware of the wider services of the Carers Centre, and making sure that the coffee mornings continue to take place and are advertised within the practice.
As part of their wider work with GP Practices, Blackpool Carers Centre sends out newsletter to the GP Practices that they are involved with, and they use this to engender an air of competition amongst the Practices; listing who has referred the most carers and highlighting successes within individual practices across the network. This has helped to keep individual Practices engaged.

Have there been any challenges along the way?
There have been some difficulties with getting GP Practices to embrace the wider work that the Carers Centre is offering to undertake with them; however once this has been overcome there has been a good level of success.

What hints and tips might help me get started?
Selling the work that the Carers Centre does, and particularly these coffee mornings, as something that ‘adds value’ to the Practice by supporting their patients has been very effective. Combining this with the argument that what is being done will cost them nothing in-terms of resources (bar a very small amount of publicity – adding articles to newsletters that they send to patients, and allowing the Carers Centre staff to promote their work within the Practice), has been very effective.

Are there any useful documents that can assist me?
The document below is an example of the newsletter that Blackpool Carers' Centre distributes, and on page seven you can see an advertisement for the coffee mornings which we always place in the newsletter;

Newsletter from Blackpool Carers Centre, Advertising Coffee Morning (1.2 MB) (1.2 MB)

Where can I get further information?
Teresa Dufty,
Blackpool Carers Centre,
Norman House,
Robson Way,
Tel: 01253 393 748

When was this information collected?
March 2012.

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