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Providing vital funding for projects that help improve patient care.
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For a number of years, the Princess Royal Trust for Carers (now Carers Trust, following a merger with Crossroads Care) has worked in partnership with the Royal College of GPs to improve the identification and support of carers in general practice. As a result of the recent Supporting Carers in General Practice Programme, funded by the Department of Health, Carers Trust has had an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and develop this partnership and collaborate with a broader range of organisations whose membership or workforce are in a position to identify and support carers and refer them on to other sources of support. The information below gives an update of the work Carers Trust has done so far in partnership with carers centres and schemes, as well as the Queens Nursing Institute.
Finding out what’s needed across the networks
Carers Trust’s own contribution to the Programme, the Primary Care and Community Links Project, has involved in-depth consultations with carers centres and schemes from across the country through online surveys, telephone interviews and eight regional workshops. During these consultations, members of both networks described their successes, the challenges they face and how they could be best supported to maximise their effectiveness when working with GP practices. As a result, there is now a much better understanding of how Carers Trust can support members of the network in this complex area of work, a large bank of knowledge on effective GP liaison and an action plan to deliver the support that is needed for as long as resources allow.
Professional Development Seminar for Expert Practitioners
One of Carers Trust’s objectives within the Project has been the recruitment of 20 Expert Practitioners from the large pool of talent and expertise across both networks and provide them with a two-day professional development seminar tailored to their needs. The seminar took place on March 26th and 27th in Manchester, when Expert Practitioners enjoyed an intensive programme of talks and workshops and explored a range of opportunities for mutual support and on-going collaboration. The programme included workshops on customer relationship management, identifying young carers in General Practice, navigating the NHS, opening doors to GP practices, communication skills, the policy context and the role of GP Champion for Carers and Carer Ambassador. With further funding, Carers Trust hope to provide additional professional development opportunities for other GP Liaison Practitioners including those whose work and caring responsibilities prevented them from applying to become an Expert Practitioner or attending the seminar.
Developing resources for GP Liaison Practitioners
Another of Carers Trust’s objectives was to produce online and hard-copy resources for GP Liaison Practitioners in general, including a range of examples of best practice, together with a GP Liaison Practitioner’s Manual, which will be available for distribution in early summer. The best practice examples, all gathered from carers centres and schemes across the networks, can already be accessed on TrustNet within the Primary Care section of the site and will eventually be available on Carers Trust’s website.
Working with other organisations to identify carers
During the consultation activities, many carers centres and schemes spoke about the benefits of working in partnership with staff from organisations outside of general practice such as district nurses, allied health professionals and retailers. This has further emphasised the value of another element of the Primary Care and Community Links Project: forging and developing partnerships with organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing, the Federation of Allied Health Professionals and Sainsbury’s (with whom a number of carers centres have worked in the past).
With this aim in mind, Carers Trust recently carried out a survey in partnership with the Queens Nursing Institute (QNI), a charity focused on improving the nursing care of people in their own homes. Given that most of the QNI’s membership consist of community nurses who will be in regular contact with carers, Carers Trust wanted to ask them about the opportunities their members have for identifying carers, the challenges they face in doing this, and what Carers Trust could provide to make it easier for them in future.
Overall, the survey has shown that healthcare professionals are very much aware of the issues carers face and feel able to identify them. However, many of the nurses who responded said they would value more information relating to carers, such as up-to-date summaries of the support available to carers from the voluntary sector in their own locality. Without such information, they reported, it was difficult to make referrals with confidence. A report summarising the findings will be available in the coming weeks, together with proposals of how this knowledge can inform future partnership activities within the Project.
At the time of writing this update, there are strong indications that funding will be available to ensure that the Supporting Carers in General Practice programme will continue, while discussions are taking place to make sure that all parties work as closely as possible in future. If you would like any further information about the Primary Care and Community Links Project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07809 967 863.