This year’s Carers Week, is focusing on ‘building carer-friendly communities’ - communities that support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own.
This is a focus that chimes with so much of what we’re doing here at CHP.
We’re working to create a health estate that uses service integration, improved accessibility and community-based care as a means to bring a huge range of services closer to people’s doorsteps.
It’s a holistic approach, which takes into account the needs not just of the patient and the professionals, but also the family members and friends who care for them too.
Housing a range of service providers in single sites helps reduce unnecessary hospital appointments and allows more efficient referrals not only between health providers, but also between health and local authority services such as benefits advice, housing support and immigration.
All of which makes the task of caring for someone, being responsible for making appointments, travelling to those appointments, and getting information out of the providers as to what should happen next a great deal easier.
For example, the LIFT Programme in Liverpool, delivered through Public Private Partnership Liverpool and Sefton Health Partnership, has completed 14 projects to date, which now means that every resident has a GP within a 15 minute walk and can reach an NHS treatment centre within 30 minutes on public transport.
Buildings in the area such as South Liverpool NHS Treatment Centre and the Kensington Neighbourhood Health Centre have brought primary care into new, fit-for-purpose facilities and housed them alongside a range of outpatient and community services, including local authority provision.
So in many cases GP appointments are happening in the same place as phlebotomy, podiatry, x-rays, counselling, benefits advice, library services and carers groups.
Su Lennox, a senior dental nurse at the City of Coventry Health Centre, which opened in January 2012, spoke to us about the benefits of working in a multi-disciplinary centre. The services there have a particular focus on special care dentistry for people with additional needs, including learning difficulties and physical disabilities, and so see a great many carers accompanying patients.
“Before we moved here we had five other clinics around the city. Now we’re one large, team working from a single site, so if our clinicians need to consult each other in order to provide the best care for a patient, they can do that on the day, without the need to rely on emails and phone calls, and without setting up another visit. All the staff support each other, inform each other and train each other.
“The new facilities have had quite a vast impact; patients get a much better quality of care, as we can now do all their treatment(s) in one visit; everything from a check-up, to seeing our oral health team and having x-rays, without the need to book multiple appointments and arrange transport back and forth.
“It’s also very nice to share these facilities with such a wide range of other providers. It makes referring our patients to other services much easier. If necessary we can go and talk to a service provider first and find out what the requirements and regulations are regarding referrals.”
With integration and community-based care still very much at the top of the NHS agenda, we’re looking forward to continuing to help build carer-friendly communities across the country.
Best of luck to all the carers groups and services based in our buildings who are involved in Carers Week events this week.