Plan back carers

PUBLISHED: 11:05 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:33 10 June 2010

CARERS of the elderly, disabled or infirm could be given greater support at doctors surgeries - thanks to a pilot scheme in Exmouth.

CARERS of the elderly, disabled or infirm could be given greater support at doctors' surgeries - thanks to a pilot scheme in Exmouth.

The scheme, being rolled out at the Rolle and Imperial medical practices in Exmouth, and Coleridge Medical Centre in Ottery St Mary places advice workers alongside doctors, practice staff and carers.

The scheme is in response to the Government's Carers' Strategy released earlier this year - and it is hoped that the workers will help GPs identify potential carers.

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Denise Rendell, Carers' GP project supervisor, said: "There are areas in Devon where good work is already happening and the aim of this project is to build on this and expand it to other areas.

"Some GP practices have protocols in place to identify carers, some have dedicated notice boards with information, some have a higher number of carers registered with Carers' Link and some have a local 'champion', for example a practice manager, GP or League of Friends coordinator."

Mary Nisbett, chief executive of Westbank healthy living centre said: "We have been delighted by the interest from general practices to take part in the pilot projects. There is clearly an increasing awareness of the need to support carers and recognise the potential impact on their health which can arise from caring for a relative or friend.

"Many will have regular contact with health services in regards to the health of the person that they care for, but may neglect their own signs and symptoms of ill-health.

"Primary care is where the early recognition of carers' needs could be picked up. We want to ensure they not only know what to do if they need help before becoming unwell, but that they are also equipped to carry out their caring role, minimising the impact on their own health."

The projects will be evaluated in 2009 and the results will be used to identify the best support.

Cllr Sally Morgan, Devon County Council's executive support member with responsibilities for carers, said: "This is great news. We estimate there are 73,000 carers in Devon, and 5,000 accessing support through our Carers' Links. Having information and advice workers active in GP practices will certainly help to identify carers who might not even think of themselves as such, let alone realise that support may be available to them."

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