A carer is a person who voluntarily cares, unpaid, for someone who cannot manage without their support due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction.
Dorset has 83,000 people providing unpaid care estimated from the 2011 Census, this is around 11% of our population. Carers often do not recognise themselves as carers and therefore may fail to seek support. Early information and support are key to preventing carer break down. Staff working in a primary care setting are in an ideal position to offer this. The earlier a carer is identified and supported, the more likely crisis situations can be prevented, for carers and the people they care for.
Dorset Carers Strategy
Published in June 2016, the Valuing Carers in Dorset Strategy has been developed with carers and Dorset’s councils, NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Group. It sets out priorities for services and developments in Dorset for carers.
The strategy is due to be refreshed in 2020.
Signposting for carers
If you are caring for someone, it is a good idea to join the carers information service of the local authority of the person you care for.
This is a great way to find out what support is out there local to you, it’s free to join and many carers find having a contact for support is very valuable.
If the cared for person lives in Dorset Council area, please contact Carer Support Dorset.
If the cared for person lives in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council area, please contact CRISP (Carers Resource Information Support Programme).
Both council areas in Dorset offer carers discount cards and other support services. For information on these and what discounts are available please contact the above organisations or look at the carers card discount list.
Let your GP surgery know you care for someone
GP surgeries keep registers of their patients who are also carers. This can help staff better look after their patient’s needs, often offering flexibility with appointments and additional support, such as flu jab reminders, home visits. This provides opportunities to look out for the warning signs of illnesses that are common among carers. Evidence shows that carers are more likely to suffer from poor mental and physical health compared to non-carers.
Most GP practices in Dorset are working towards becoming carers friendly practices via the guidelines set out by the NHS England and Innovation, Quality Markers for primary care.
This is an annual declaration for GP practices to highlight the good work they are doing to supporting carers and to also look at what else they can do to improve for next year. The NHS England framework of quality markers was developed with Carers Trust, CarersUK and The Children’s Society and is Care Quality Commission (CQC) supported.
Carers champions and carers lead roles within GP practices
The NHS England “Supporting carers in general practice, a framework of quality markers” suggested to have at each surgery a strategical lead for carers responsible to enabling change in practice, and a Carers Champion or Carers Lead responsible for the operational support for carers at the practice.
A GP Carers Champion or Lead is accountable for ensuring that all staff at the surgery are able to identify, support and record a patient as a carer on the medical records. It’s important that the Carers Champion or Lead also ensures that the carers register is kept up to date within the practice, that carers signposting information is available to all staff and patients of all ages and are often working towards a series of practical developments within the practice to support carers.
Practical Guide for Caring
The NHS alongside Public Health England and a number of carer voluntary organisations have developed a practical guide for caring, particularly for people new to caring responsibilities.
Care Act 2014
The Care Act 2014 highlights GP practices in having a key role in maintaining carer health and wellbeing. The act also covers equality for carers, and ensures carers have access to an assessment of need in their own right. This is often called a Carers Assessment – a personalised holistic assessment to ensure the carer’s needs are identified, supported and recorded. This includes the person’s physical, mental and emotional needs. For more information regarding a carers assessment, contact your carers information service.
Children and Families Act 2014
The Act clearly sets out legislation for young carers, young adult carers and their families. It states that Children’s and Adult’s Services must work together, alongside other organisations, to proactively identify and support young carers in a timely and age appropriate way.
We rely on carers sharing their views to help us shape our services to better fit the needs of carers in Dorset. If you would like to assist in the planning and development of local strategies and services, ensuring carers views are heard and included, please see the variety of ways you can support below.
Carers Reference Group for your area – if you have a particular interest in support with carers services developments, please contact the local authority carers information services and ask about their carers reference groups.
GP Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) work in partnership with GP practices. Members are usually patients at the practice or people associated with it. Some groups meet in person; others are ‘virtual’ groups with members communicating with their practice online. Find out more information about GP Participation Groups.
Health involvement Network (HIN) is primarily online involvement, where you will receive a quarterly newsletter, informing you where there are opportunities to get involved with service developments and events.
Supporting Stronger Voices (SSV) groups meets every 6 months, it’s a great way to meet other passionate people about support service developments in Dorset.