13th April 2011
GP surgeries throughout Sheffield are becoming havens for carers this week, thanks to a new initiative developed in collaboration with Sheffield City Council, NHS Sheffield and the Carers Centre.
Packs of information and resources for GPs have been distributed, to help them support carers, and encourage people to come forward when visiting their surgery.
There are approximately 60,000 carers in the city, with an estimated 40,000 of these currently unknown to services, either because they don't know where to get support or because they don't consider themselves to be a 'carer'. Many people who care for a loved one don't see this as a formal role, and may not realise that they are entitled to help from statutory services.
Alice Grant (73) in Parson Cross, who has been a carer for her husband for 14 years, said: "My GP has been very supportive, and it makes a big difference to know that you can get that help, and that they understand the situation that we're in. I would advise other carers to let their doctors know if you are caring for someone, and that if you're worried about anything you can talk to your GP. The Carers Centre is also a great first port of call for help and advice."
As part of a survey by Sheffield City Council, carers in Sheffield have said they would like their GP to be a key source of information and support.
Ian Davidson, GP at Foxhill Medical Centre, said: “We know that there are thousands of people out there who dedicate a lot of time to caring for family and loved ones. In many ways it can be a thankless task, and often goes unrecognised. However these people are taking a huge burden away from statutory services and it is important that they know that support is available.
Resources are available to support carers from a number of agencies. For some, a good starting point would be to discuss this with the staff at their local GP surgery. We hope that by using the materials in the GP packs to make this issue more visible, that people visiting their GP will be prompted to seek support".
Each surgery has received five packs consisting of posters, a mini guide to caring, what to do in a crisis Zcard, coasters and reception bunting.
Cherry Daniels, Sheffield City Council's Carers lead, said: "Many people are carers out of love and a natural sense of responsibility to family members, but it can be very hard work and enormously draining. That's why it's so important that we get carers the help and support they need.
“GPs are a key place for people to get information and access help, and we're making sure that as many people as possible feel able come forward to get support from their GP. These packs also help GPs to understand how to spot carers amongst their patients, and the kind of help that many carers need."
Elise Gilwhite, Carers lead at NHS Sheffield, said: "GPs and practice nurses are in a great position to identify and support their patients that are caring for family members, neighbours or friends. Up to one in 10 people that they could see from their local area may have caring responsibilities, including children and young people under 18.
"By helping carers to access support services available in Sheffield, such as the Carers Centre and Young Carers Project, they may also help carers stay healthy and reduce stress and anxiety. We hope these packs will help GP practices in their efforts to offer further support for carers."