Pharmacies are the most “carer-friendly” healthcare service, according to charity Carers UK.
Sixty-seven per cent of carers viewed pharmacies as supportive, according to a survey published to coincide with the launch of Carers Week today (June 8).
In comparison, only 57 per cent of 4,572 respondents to the survey - which ran from February to April - viewed GPs as “carer-friendly”. Forty-one per cent saw hospital services in this way, Carers UK said.
The charity also revealed the “very positive results” of a pilot led by charity Carers Trust and PSNC to increase the identification and support of unpaid carers in pharmacies. The initiative ran across 39 pharmacies in 10 areas of England between November 2014 and February 2015 and resulted in pharmacy staff identifying 247 carers who were referred to local support organisations for information and advice, Carers UK told C+D.
The Carers Trust pilot was designed to “test the idea of LPCs, pharmacies and local carers services working together to identify, support and refer carers”, Carers UK said. Staff in participating pharmacies underwent training to increase their confidence to do this, it said.
A “key success factor” in the pilot was the development of relationships with participating organisations and pharmacies by “ongoing telephone, email and face-to-face support, together with more formal updates and email bulletins”, it said.
Julia Ellis, Carers Trust development manager for primary care, said the outcomes had been "really encouraging...even though the pilot coincided with the extremely busy period of Christmas and the pharmacies who took part received no additional funding".
"Without doubt, today’s community pharmacy is ideally placed to reach ‘hidden’ carers and link them up with much-needed support,” Ms Ellis added.
Carers UK said the pilot was part of a programme of work funded by the Department of Health and the Supporting Carers in General Practice programme - an initiative by Carers UK, Carers Trust and the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Only 8 per cent of respondents to the survey rated pharmacy as “not carer-friendly at all”, compared to 21 per cent who viewed GPs in this way and 28 per cent who rated hospitals as unsupportive, Carers UK said.
Sixty-five per cent said the lack of support in their area made it more difficult to look after the person they cared for, while 61 per cent said it was having an impact on their own health, the charity added.