Carers sometimes carry on regardless through coughs, flu, stomach upsets and worse. It’s important though to see your doctor if you feel unwell but particularly 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. Although it is hard to stop and rest while caring, it is important to try and take some time to rest, even with minor illnesses. Your body will have a better chance of making a quick recovery.
It is important as soon as you begin caring that you let your GP know 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. Your GP may be able to help you as a carer by:
- Providing information and advice on medical condition and treatments for the person you care for.
- Information on services provided by the NHS such as continence services and patient transport to hospital appointments.
- Appointment times that fit in with your caring role and/or 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.
- Arranging a free flu jab for you (if by catching flu you may be putting someone at risk because you would no longer be able to care for them) or if you are receipt of Carers Allowance.
- Arranging a health check, if caring for someone is affecting your health.
- Providing supporting letters and information to enable you and the person you care for to access benefits such as Attendance Allowance or the blue badge scheme.
The wider practice team
The team at your GP practice is much more than just the doctor. There are many other services provided via the GP and by the wider NHS that can support you in your caring role and looking after your own health. These include – occupational therapists, physiotherapists, continence advisors and dieticians.
Most GP practices now have a practice nurse. Their roles can change from practice to practice, but they are often involved in routine health checks and nursing care. If you have any concerns or would like more information about an aspect of your health it might be useful to book an appointment with the Practice Nurse to talk it over.
District Nurse/Community Nurse
District Nurses provide support to individuals and carers in their own homes. They are normally based in GP practices. 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.
- District Nurses also have links with other community, social and voluntary services and can assist you in contacting relevant services.
Your surgery or GP can give you further information on how a District Nurse can help you.
Health Visitors provide support to people of all ages and will normally be based at your GP’s practice. Your health visitor may be able help you in your role 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.