Who are you and what is your role here at Local Solutions?
My name is Christopher King and I am the Carers GP Link Worker at the Liverpool Carers Centre at Local Solutions.
How did you get this role?
Before this role that I am in now, I was the Life Enhancing Technologies Advisor at the Carers Centre, promoting a wide range of innovative technologies and gadgets aimed at making life easier for carers and the cared for person. ‘LET’s is a fantastic initiative that has made a huge difference to the lives of many. As well as making life easier, LET’s can provide both the carer and cared for person with a sense of reassurance and peace of mind, helping them feel more secure and less isolated’.
I was delighted when the opportunity came up for a Carers GP Link Worker role because as a former carer myself, I personally know just how hard things can get without the right support. When things got tough, I would find myself in front of my GP regularly with symptoms of anxiety and depression and although my GP understood what I was going through, all he or she could do was write me a prescription for some medication and provide me with information on talking therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Although medication and CBT can help, there is much more on offer for carers in terms of support. The GP Link Service at the Carers Centre is aiming to make general practice more “carer friendly” by introducing simple yet effective ways to identify and support unpaid carers in line with NHS guidelines. Supporting carers is something I am very passionate about and seeing the difference the support on offer at the Carers Centre can make is hugely rewarding.
How important is Health and Wellbeing to carers?
Health and Wellbeing is so important for all of us in general but for carers, good health and wellbeing can make all the difference. If carers aren’t looking after themselves, this can have a knock-on-effect on the cared for person, which, in turn, can result in complete carer breakdown, therefore we continuously instil the importance of looking after yourself into carers.
Our Health & Wellbeing Programme at the centre runs a series of activities all proven to have a positive effect on health and wellbeing, such as, Yoga, Tai Chi, Zumba, Mindfulness, Holistic Therapies, Health walks, Calming Craft and many more.
‘Our attention is focussed on health and wellbeing because if a carer is looking after themselves, they are halfway there’
Can you explain what you are currently working on?
At the moment, we’re currently working closely with a number of practices across Liverpool to ensure that all clinical and non-clinical staff are up to speed on the support that is available to carers across Liverpool, as well as how to refer patients in to our services.
Due to an increase in demand, we have introduced a traffic light system and put this in place to ensure that each practice is equally supported. Green practices now have a carers strategy in place and we’re regularly receiving referrals from these for carers in need of support. Amber practices have begun to work with us on their own strategy but still need additional support to finalise measures and put these in place and practices in red are putting ideas together and are eagerly awaiting to start.
We have now developed a referral pathway which allows all practice staff to easily refer patients into the centre from their medical record. Once the referral comes into the centre, a member of the team will make contact and explain the support process. We have also introduced colourful carer notice boards and an information slide which is shown on the TV screens in the waiting room/s in each of the practices asking “Do You Look After Someone?” as this encourages carers to self-refer at reception.
In addition to all of this, we have developed a carers information pack which aims to give carers a basic understanding of the types of support that are available across the city. The pack comes complete with a self-referral form and pre-paid envelope to return to the centre and can be found at your GP practice reception desk.
How can people find out about the Health and Wellbeing Programme?
How can people find out about the GP Link Service?
It is very important that you let your GP Practice know you are a carer so they can ensure you’re getting the right support. For more information, please call: 0151 705 2357.