Being a carer can make it more difficult to access health services, and this can have a negative impact on people's wellbeing.
We wanted to find out how we could improve this - we explored what support people are currently getting from their GP, and what services can do to ensure more consistent support across the city.
What support do carers currently receive?
- Just 11% of carers told us they were given a carer information pack
- Only 16% of carers were told about their rights to a carers' needs assessment (this assessment is a way to identify what you need help with, and put support in place)
- 18% of carers were asked about their mental and emotional wellbeing by their GP
We also found some specific issues for carers who don't fit the 'stereotype' of what a carer is, and might not be identified as such by health professionals.
Young carers (people under 18) find it harder to be included in discussions and decisions for the person they care for. One young carer told us: "It feels like people are naturally protective because we are children but what are they protecting us from? It should be easier to get information about my dad’s conditions from health services."
People who care for young people (including parent carers) were more involved in these decisions, but were less likely to be offered further support or referrals to help with their caring role. This could be because staff fail recognise their caring responsibilities over and above their parenting responsibilities.
What can be improved?
Carers gave us examples of helpful support that they'd received in the past, which could be put in place more consistently across the city. Some of these were about flexibility of support which responded to their caring role - such as allowing other people to collect prescriptions on their behalf, or offering flexible options like telephone appointments. Other examples revolved around building a trusted relationship with a consistent care provider, meaning they could regularly check in about their mental health, remind them about support and other services they needed such as flu vaccines and health checks.
Based on our findings, we have made several recommendations to the people who design, pay for, and deliver services. We want to help them to support carers in a consistent and person-centered way, and have made suggestions for practical ways to achieve this.