Why should carers have a flu jab?
When you’re looking after someone who’s old or disabled and unable to get by without your help, catching the flu can be catastrophic. That’s why unpaid carers are eligible for a free NHS flu jab, providing they receive Carer's Allowance or are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare would be at risk if the carer was ill. Once a carer's been vaccinated against the flu, they're also less likely to pass the virus on to the person they care for, who could become seriously ill as a result.
Most carers have been missing out so far
Even though carers have been eligible for a free NHS flu jab for several years, last season only 174,522 of England’s 5,430,000 unpaid carers were vaccinated against the flu by their GP practice. In fact, only 386,898 people were recorded by their GP practice as being a carer. But now that carers can have a flu jab at their local pharmacy, the hope is that many more will be identified, vaccinated and supported in future. Here’s how you can help.
Follow the 60-second Flu Chat
To help busy pharmacy teams identify carers quickly and easily, Carers Trust has produced a '60-second Carers Flu Chat' which suggests how you can engage someone you think might be a carer in a quick conversation about why they should consider getting vaccinated. The script also suggests that you offer to let the carer’s GP practice know that they're a carer when you notify the practice that they've been vaccinated.
You’ll notice that the Flu Chat also suggests that you give carers some information to read about their local carers service which they may find useful. You could also give the carer a leaflet with details of the services your pharmacy can provide such as repeat prescriptions, home deliveries and MURs. Another option is to give carers a copy of Carers Trust's booklet, A Carer's Guide to Managing Medicines
Supporting carers in a nutshell
Along with the 60-second Flu Chat, we’ve also produced a one-page infographic with key information on protecting carers from the flu. As with the Flu Chat, we recommend you give a copy of the infographic to every member of your team and put it on the wall in your staff room to encourage the whole team to ‘think carer’. And if you'd like to broaden and strengthen your knowledge of carers further still, check out the Carers Floor in the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education's LearningPharmacy. PSNC has also produced some guidance on supporting carers which you may find useful.
Promoting the service to carers
PSNC has produced a pharmacy flu vaccination poster specifically aimed at carers.
If you have any questions about supporting carers or any feedback you’re happy to share, please email email@example.com. You’ll also find a wide range of information for carers on Carers Trust’s main website.
TEN SIGNS THAT TELL COMMUNITY PHARMACY TEAMS THAT SOMEONE MAY BE A CARER
Carers are often the people who:-
- Drop off and collect prescriptions for another person.
- Collect medications for someone who has a condition (e.g. dementia) which suggests that they wouldn't be able to get by on their own.
- Buy incontinence products or other items associated with ill health, frailty or disability.
- Ask for advice about someone else’s medication, health condition or disability rather than their own.
- Sit in on a Medicines Use Review and give the impression that they are main 'manager' of your patient's medications.
- May seem to be in a hurry to get back home because they don't want to leave someone on their own for very long.
- Visit the pharmacy with someone who appears to need their support.
- May look tired, depressed or anxious when the person they usually accompany isn't with them.
- Take delivery of medications from the pharmacy delivery driver.
- Regularly buy over-the-counter medicines for another person.