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Your GP

Your GP (General Practitioner) and primary care team can provide you with invaluable support, advice and information.

Primary care provision consists of much more than your GP. There are many services that can support you in your caring role and in looking after your own health including, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, continence advisors and dieticians. This section provides some suggestions on ways to make best use of some of these services as a carer.


Your GP

As soon as you begin caring (or if you are already a carer, as soon as you can) tell your GP that you are a carer. This can be recorded on your medical records.

If they know you are a carer and likely to be under pressure at times, they will find it easier to offer the advice and support you need and if necessary diagnose and treat you in the future. Carers of people with serious/chronic health conditions or who are frail may also qualify for an annual flu vaccination. Ask your GP or practice for more information.

Your GP may be able to help you as a carer by:

  • Providing information and advice on:
    • medical conditions of and treatments for the person you care for to help you feel more confident in your caring role.
    • services provided by the NHS such as continence services and patient transport to hospital appointments.
    • other sources of support and advice. This could include the social services department and local voluntary agencies.
  • Carrying out home visits to you or the person you care for if your caring responsibilities make it difficult to attend appointments at the surgery.
  • Arranging appointments for both you and the person you care for at the same time to avoid having to visit the surgery twice.
  • Arranging for repeat prescriptions to be delivered to your local pharmacy to save you picking them up.
  • Providing supporting letters and information to enable you and the person you care for to access benefits such as Attendance Allowance or for your local housing department or blue badge scheme.
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Health check-ups

Life might be very busy and your attention may be mainly focused on caring, but try to look after yourself and your own health needs by attending appointments, check-ups and screenings.

If you have not seen your GP for some time, why not arrange a health check? This is likely to involve checking your blood pressure, weight and urine as well as a general discussion about your health. Your pharmacist can also help.

If you are ill or have health concerns

Carers sometimes carry on regardless through coughs, flu, stomach upsets and worse; but don’t put off seeing your doctor if you feel faint or dizzy or have unexplained pains. Seeing your doctor can lead to the problem being dealt with more quickly and effectively. Even with minor illnesses, try and take some time to rest. Your body will have a better chance of making a quick recovery and you will have less chance of the illness lingering on.

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The primary care team

The primary care team is much more than just the GP. Below are just some of those who are involved in primary care but there are many other services provided by primary care and by the wider NHS that can support you in your caring role and in looking after your own health. These include: occupational therapists, physiotherapists, continence advisors and dieticians.

Practice Nurse

Most doctors’ practices now have a practice nurse. Their role does differ from practice to practice, but they are often involved in routine health checks and nursing care. It might be useful to talk to the practice nurse if you have any concerns or would like more information about a certain aspect of your health.

District Nurse

District Nurses provide support to individuals and carers in their own homes. They are normally based in GP surgeries and your surgery or GP can provide more advice on accessing their support and assistance. Your district nurse may be able to help you in your caring role by:

  • Carrying out treatments such as dressing wounds or giving injections to avoid you and the person you care for having to visit the surgery.
  • Assisting with rehabilitation after an illness or operation.
  • Supporting you in caring if the person you care for has a terminal illness.
  • Giving you advice and assistance in aspects of health care of the person you care for. This could include providing guidance and training on lifting and handling more safely, first aid and administering medication or treatments.
  • Advising you on your own health care and preventing ill health.
  • Arranging for the provision of equipment for the person you care for. This could include items such as walking aids or bed rails.
  • District Nurses also have links with other community, social and voluntary services and can assist you in contacting relevant services.
Health Visitor

Health Visitors provide support to people of all ages and will normally be based at your GP’s surgery. Your health visitor may be able help you as a carer by:

  • Providing information on health and illness prevention.
  • Providing access to screening services.
  • Providing support to parent carers and advice on care, support services, benefits and adaptations for disabled children.
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