A carer is anyone who looks after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness, addiction, or who needs extra help as they grow older. The care they give is unpaid and includes adults or children.
It is important that people let their GP practice know they are a carer and ask if this can be added on to their medical record, so they can be better supported by their GP and the wider primary care team.
This may include flexibility with appointment times to accommodate their situation, both for themselves and the person they care for, free annual health checks, flu vaccinations and repeat prescriptions from the pharmacy. The practice can also provide carers with medical information about the condition of the person they care for, with their consent.
Councillor Linda Leach, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: “Carers play a vital role in supporting people who are frail, ill or disabled, but in doing so, they can become more vulnerable themselves.
“They are often inclined to ignore any symptoms they may have because they cannot contemplate becoming ill themselves when they have caring responsibilities. Your GP can help keep you fit and well by recognising the effects caring can have on your health, such as depression, stress, high blood pressure or back pain.”
Dr Salma Reehana, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’re encouraging everyone who is caring for a loved one or relative to let their GP know of their situation, so they can get the help and support they may need. After all, you can only look after someone else if you look after yourself too.
“Your GP can also offer you advice and support on how to provide the best care for the person you are looking after, whether it’s sharing information about aspects of a treatment or medical procedure planned for that person or the skills you need as a career such as how to change dressings or give medication.”
Meanwhile, carers are urged to registered with Wolverhampton's Carer Support Team, which offers help to ensure they are supported in their caring role, have access to the services they need and are able to claim the benefits they are entitled to.
The team also provides practical information, guidance and advice on a range of matters including benefits and offer a range of other services including training in essential skills such as first aid.
Supporting carers is a key commitment of the Wolverhampton Cares initiative. Launched by the council and key partners last autumn, it has seen a package of help and support put in place to help the local health and social care sector through the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. To find out more please visit Wolverhampton Cares.