A new initiative in Leeds is improving the health and wellbeing of carers and the people they look after.
The project is the work of five GP practices in Pudsey, Leeds who have joined forces to improve how carers are identified and supported. The work is also supported by Leeds City Council, Carers Leeds and NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
A carer is anyone who, without payment, looks after a family member or friend living with dementia, illness, disability, mental health issues or a substance misuse problem who couldn’t manage without support.
According to Carers Leeds, there are around 74,000 unpaid carers in the city, and nearly a quarter of those care for more than 50 hours a week. In Pudsey, there are 1347 known carers, but it’s believed that’s only around half of the actual number, so a key task for the new project is to identify as many carers as possible and put them in touch with support services.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “While we know how rewarding caring can be, we also understand it can affect the physical and mental health of carers. Because their main priority is the health and wellbeing of the person they care for, unfortunately sometimes they can neglect their own health.
“Most carers aren’t known to social services but an estimated 9 out of 10 will access a primary care service, usually a GP practice. This means that doctors’ surgeries are an ideal place to not only identify carers and register them, but also to link them to information and support available to them locally.
“If we know who carers are and are able to make sure they have the information and support they need, we can help them look after their own health and wellbeing, as well as that of the person they care for.”
Alison Stewart, Practice Manager at Hillfoot Surgery, said: “Carers are unsung heroes and without them, health and care services would struggle to cope. It’s vital that we look after them and help make sure they are able to continue, so it’s been great to work with our colleagues in other practices and with Carers Leeds to put measures in place that will make a difference.”
Val Hewison, Chief Executive at Carers Leeds, said: “We recognise that people don’t often identify themselves as carers so it is our job to work across different organisations and communities to ensure that we are all able to recognise carers and let them know we have a range of support services to help them. This work with GPs in Pudsey has been a great success and we hope to continue building on this training which benefits carers as well as the wider health and social care system. It’s a win win!”
The GP practices are now supporting carers through a number of ways:
- An annual health check for carers
- Alerts on records so that carers are identified and offered longer and more flexible appointments
- General practice staff are trained and educated on the needs of carers so they can signpost carers to the right support and information
- Receptionists are trained in focusing on carers and engage in conversations with them
- Carers Leeds staff offer direct carer support within the GP surgery.
If you are an unpaid carer in Leeds and are looking for support, please contact your GP surgery or get in touch with Carers Leeds on 0113 380 4300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
- The GP practices involved include West Leeds Family Practice, Hillfoot Surgery, The Gables Surgery, Dr Ross and Partners and Sunfield Medical Centre
- Find out more about Carers Leeds here: https://www.carersleeds.org.uk/
Carers Leeds is an independent charity that gives support, advice and information to unpaid carers aged 16 and over. Established in 1996, their team of expert support workers are dedicated to improving the lives of the 74,000 carers in Leeds.
They deliver confidential one to one and group support that helps carers keep on caring. Based in the centre of Leeds they also offer support in local communities, over the phone and online.
Carers Leeds works in partnership with community groups, local businesses and third sector organisations to give carers in Leeds a network of support that covers general and specialist carers issues.
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