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NHS reaches out to carers this winter

15th November 2017 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

An NHS winter campaign launched across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland is encouraging people who care for someone else on a daily basis to take up the latest NHS advice in order to protect their own health.

The five day campaign, developed by the local NHS across the city and two counties, coincides with the National Self Care Week (13-17 November).

Day three of the campaign (15th November) encourages carers to learn how to look after themselves as well as give them the confidence to take the right action when they need expert advice about their own health – vital so they can continue with their important role of looking after the people who rely on them for help. Advice, factsheets, videos and leaflets will be made available all in one place, online at www.staywell-llr.org.uk.

Carers will be able to access top tips to stay well this winter, including:

·         If you look after another person on a daily basis and they couldn’t cope without your help, you are a carer and you should talk to your GP Practice who can help both you and the person you care for.

·         If your GP Practice knows you have caring responsibilities, they can register you as a carer. This means they can provide flexible appointment times and signpost you onto support services to make life that little bit easier. This may include with financial eligibility or respite.

·         Most carers at some stage experience stress, anxiety and worry when caring for someone else. Your GP will want to hear from you if you are struggling. It’s OK to ask for help.

·         People who are already registered as carers are being encouraged to act as ambassadors to identify other people who are carers, so they can get help too.

·         More generally everyone across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who knows an elderly relative or neighbour are urged to keep an eye on them this in winter. Make sure they are warm, have enough food and drink as well as any medications they are taking, to keep them safe and out of hospital this winter.

Dr Raj Than, Leicester City GP, speaking on behalf the three CCGs in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, said: “Talk to your GP Practice if you look after someone on a daily basis and need some help yourself. It’s ok to ask. By asking for help, you will get the support you need so you stay well this winter and as a result you can continue to support those around you who need your help to stay well too.

“It is equally important that if you haven’t told your GP Practice that you have caring responsibilities that you do so. They can make a note on your records, register you as a carer and provide you and the person you care for with extra support, such as flexible appointment times and signposting to other carers support services.”

Carers are also encouraged to take advantage of the Winter Buddy scheme. A winter buddy is someone who can help make the winter months a bit easier by keeping an eye out for older or more vulnerable people as well as carers.

Being a buddy can mean watching for signs that might indicate that people need a bit of help. That might be noticing that a person is struggling to care for someone else.

A winter buddy is not meant to take the place of a health or social care professional. If you become concerned about their health or wellbeing you can call a family member, their GP, or social worker if they have one. Full details are available on the website under Winter Buddy Checklist.

Dr Than continued: “I would also urge each and every member of the public to look out for elderly neighbours and relatives this winter. Become a winter buddy even. The elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups of people at winter time, so simple things like popping round for a cup of tea, checking they are warm, their heating works, they have enough to eat and drink and they know who to contact if they feel unwell, could make a big difference.”

Patients and members of the public can find out more by visiting www.staywell-llr.org.uk and follow the campaign on social media. Search @StayWellLLR for twitter and Stay Well Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland on Facebook.  There are videos containing top tips for a healthy winter from our GPs as well as factsheets and useful contacts.

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