The Royal College of General Practitioners has launched a new educational programme to help support more than six million people in the UK who are full time carers.
The programme launched to coincide with National Carers Week this week has been created in partnership with the Department of Health, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and The Children's Society.
The RCGP estimates that one in ten patients in every GP practice cares for a sick or disabled friend or relative.
It consists of a comprehensive package of e-learning, printed publications, and workshops. The free-to-access e-learning resource has been developed in partnership with the Department of Health’s e-Learning for Healthcare, and will be aimed primarily at GPs, GP trainees and other health workers in primary care teams.
It will also be available via several different online platforms to non-medical staff working in secondary care, management staff, social care workers and other clinicians working in the community.
The e-learning sessions include information about the valuable part that carers of all ages have to play in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society, and the ways in which GPs and their teams can organise their practices and work with carers to achieve this.
The sessions also incorporate information about carers’ own health and information needs, the difficulties that they face in addressing these, and possible ways in which the primary care team might help.
Professor Nigel Sparrow, the chair of RCGP professional development board and member of the Standing Commission on Carers said:
“We estimate that there are one in ten patients in every practice who care for a relative or friend who is sick, disabled, or frail. Carers have been found to often neglect their own healthcare needs for several reasons and in many cases it is only a matter of time before they become ill.
“GPs play a vital role in encouraging carers to look after their own health, as well as providing support to help them in their caring role. There are already many examples of GP surgeries doing fantastic work but this excellent new resource will enable us to widen this even further and ensure that GPs across the country are well equipped to support those who are carrying out such an important – but often unnoticed and often undervalued – role.”
Moira Fraser, director of policy at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers said: “Primary care is one of the few services that almost all carers access – either for their own health or while looking after the person they care for. GPs play a crucial role in identifying carers and ensuring they receive the right support so that they can stay healthy, have a life of their own and continue caring. These e-modules are an important addition to the resources available to GPs to help them support carers better and we’re delighted to have been part of the project.”