GP Practice Quick-start Toolkit

GP Practice Quick-start Toolkit

A variety of tools and practical guidance to enable GP practice teams to identify and support patients who are carers.

Key Points: 

  • Practical guidance on how to develop support for carers.
  • Templates you can adapt to suit your own needs.
  • Top tips for identifying carers.
Area of Care: 
Date Revised: 

GP practice carer questionnaire

Find out how successful your practice is in supporting patients who are carers and how you might be able to support them better in future using this Carer Questionnaire which you can display in your practice waiting room and ask staff to hand out to patients they already know to be carers. 

Download a Word version and adapt it to suit your needs.

Identify carers through the condition of the person they care for

Carers can sometimes be identified through the person they care for by searching through disease registers and focusing on patients with medical conditions where it's likely that they'll be supported by a carer. Download our list of conditions suggesting a patient may have a carer for some suggestions.

You can then send our letter to patients with a condition suggesting they have a carer to the carer via the patient with the medical condition. There's a cover note attached to the front of the letter asking the patient to pass it on to the person who looks after them. As well as encouraging the carer to identify themselves to you, it also recommends a referral to their local carer service for information, advice and support.

For patients whose carer is registered at a different GP practice, the letter suggests they let their own GP practice know instead. Download the letter to patients with a condition suggesting they have a carer as an editable Word document.

Refresh your carers register

Every day, 6,000 people in the UK become carers and for a similar number of people, caring comes to an end, which is why your carers register can easily become out of date. Download our letter to patients already identified as a carer which asks the carer on your register to let you know if they're no longer looking after someone. For those who are still carers, the letter encourages them to be referred to their local carer service.

If you discover that someone is no longer a carer, they may be finding life difficult, even if caring ended some time ago. If this is the case, we would recommend that a clinican should ask the carer how they are and, if necessary, screen them for depression, next time they visit the practice. Some carer organisations provide specialist support to bereaved carers so it's worth checking to see what's available in your own local area. Download the letter to patients already identified as a carer as a Word document.

What kind of services are available for carers?

Your staff may be unsure of what kind of services are available for carers and this may make them reluctant to engage with carers or encourage them to contact their local carer service. We have put together a flyer showing typical services for carers which we recommend you give to every member of your team, as well as to carers themselves.

Best-practice action plan

This diagram, showing the six steps to supporting carers has been adapted from Supporting Carers: An Action Guide for GP Practices and their Teams which Carers Trust co-authored with the Royal College of GPs. It illustrates the different ways GP practices can support carers, from appointing a member of the team as a Carer Champion to offering carers annual health checks.

Top tips in carer identification: What do carer-friendly practices do to find out which of their patients are carers?

  • They ask patients if they ‘look after someone’ instead of asking them if they are a carer because they know carers don’t always identify with the label.
  • They know which services are available to carers in their locality and use examples to encourage carers to self-identify.  
  • They know that posters and leaflets are not enough on their own to encourage carers to self-identify; that staff need to talk to carers as well. 
  • They have a carers notice board, but instead of calling it a carers notice board they fix a banner above it saying: If you look after someone, this is for you.”
  • They always have leaflets on display for carers at flu clinics and encourage staff to give them out to people accompanying patients to the clinic.

You can download the full list of suggestions as a top tips in carer identification.

Other useful documents

Demonstrating that a practice is caring.

Further information

For more details about how your local carers service can help you identify carers and offer them support, email Carers Trust