Ottery St Mary medical centre launches pilot cheme for carers

OTTERY'S Coleridge Medical Centre has launched a pilot scheme aimed at caring for carers in the town.

OTTERY'S Coleridge Medical Centre has launched a pilot scheme aimed at caring for the carers in the town and hopes are high that lessons learnt can play a part in affecting general practise throughout the country.

In response to the Government's Carer's Strategy, released earlier this year, health teams across the country are being encouraged to increase the support offered to carers. With GP practices often the first port of call for carers, practises have been challenged to find more ways of addressing their needs and Ottery's medical centre has embraced the task.

Coleridge Practice Manager Anne Maher said: "The idea is that there thousands of people in communities who are looking after relatives and friends, if those people become ill it falls on the health service to take their place. Our focus is on carers, keeping them fit and healthy to carry out their role."

Carers visiting the centre in Canaan Way can now call upon the services of occupational therapist/ care manager, who will be in place seven hours a week.

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The senior practise nurse is on hand to offer free health checks with two healthcare assistants acting as advice and support workers.

It is hoped the advice workers will help GPs identify carers and trained workers and ensure their good overall health and wellbeing.

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Mrs Maher said: "This is the first time there has been anything practical offered to them, other services can send information and offer services but people are often reluctant, hopefully carers in our community will realise that we are here on their doorstep to help them in any way. If we can prove the scheme has a benefit then it can become part of general practise and be funded to provide support for carers in every area nationwide."

Analysts from Plymouth University will monitor the affects of the scheme and evaluate its success when it finishes in March next year.

Councillor Sally Morgan, Devon County Council's executive support member with responsibilities for carers, said: "This is great news. Having information and advice workers active GP practises will certainly help to identify carers who might not even think of themselves as such, let alone realise that support may be available to them."

Anyone wishing to benefit from the new scheme should call the practise nurse team on (01404) 814447.

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