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20.12.2017

Croydon’s Black and Asian carers say GPs need to recognise their role earlier and support them more

Croydon GPs need to recognise Black and Asian carers roles and support

them more by referring them to relevant services, according to a new

research published by Healthwatch Croydon.

The study, Black and Minority Ethnic Carers and their experiences of GP Services in Croydon, looked at issues such as recognising the caring role, carer’s health and the impact of caring on their health, cultural issues, access and confidence of the GP and signposting to relevant services.

There could be as many as Black and Asian 15,000 carers in Croydon. The borough has over 33,000 carers and 46% of Croydon’s population are from Black and Asian backgrounds (Office of National Statistics, 2011).

The report says that Croydon GPs are not sufficiently recognising the caring role or referring carers to the Croydon Carers Support Centre and other support services. This is similar to the findings in the Carers’ Information Service in the Not Just a Patient report published in May 2017.

Issues also include:

Cultural assumptions affect recognition of caring role

One carer said: “Doctors made the assumption that because he (her father) had a good unit, a family around him, that we were all capable and will do the looking after him. (That) all individuals within the family will get involved, we will all become carers, especially within the Asian community.”

Rapport and recognition is everything

There were also examples of good practice. Our evidence found that when BME carers have relaxed rapport with their practice and their GP, they are more positive about the services they receive. They are also more open to referral and advice is immediately improved. Two surgeries have successfully introduced care navigators who carers can use to find out about further services and support.

Recommendations

  • GP practices ensure that there is a specialist section focussing on BME issues and support in their carers’ policy.
  • GP practices should consider implementing unconscious bias training to unpick assumptions about BME culture and lifestyles and positively address these issues.
  • Each GP practice should have a Carers’ lead who links with the Croydon Carers Support Centre and specific BME organisations to give relevant carers appropriate sources of support.
  • All GP practices should have a Carers Register which should be reviewed regularly to ensure appropriate service is given to those who need it.
  • GP practices should develop best practice with reference to carer support and a carer awareness culture working with Croydon’s Carers Support Centre.
  • A CCG carer champion network should be created bringing together Healthwatch Croydon and relevant partner agencies.

Read the report here.

John Davey, Chair of Healthwatch Croydon said: “The varying quality in services given to BME carers indicates a need to implement better support across the board so that all BME carers in Croydon feel recognised and supported. It is encouraging to see some GPs ensuring that carers are supported and heard, particularly through the use of care navigators. However, some practices need to be more aware of unintentional bias based on cultural assumptions. We look forward to supporting GPs and the Clinical Commissioning Group in delivering a consistency of service, in setting up a carer champion network and guidelines. This will ensure all carers, receive the same level of consideration and support.”

Helen Thompson, Carers Support Centre Manager, said: This concerning research echoes our own Not Just a Patient report findings. Last year’s GP patient survey found that carers are more likely to experience long-term health issues and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, so it’s essential for GPs to be aware of their needs. Yet despite these additional risks, 81% of carers told us that their GP had never informed them of support for their caring role. We support Healthwatch Croydon’s recommendations and look forward to working with Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group and local GPs to make sure Croydon carers get the help they need.”

Read the Not Just a Patient report here.