Crossroads Care Cambridgeshire has picked up the Effectiveness Award at the Charity Awards this year for its work to make carers known to all Cambridgeshire GPs.
Collecting the Award, which is sponsored by BT MyDonate, before an audience of more than 700 voluntary sector representatives, CCC’s chief executive Dr Helen Brown said: “It’s unusual for informal family carers to be in spotlight, ever. We support them and I’d just like to say we are thrilled to win this award.”
The project for which CCC was honoured aimed to improve recognition and help for the army of often-hidden support that carers provide.
The award came in the same week that Carers UK released new research showing that two in five unpaid carers are sacrificing their own health by putting off medical treatment to care for an ill, frail or disabled loved one.
In its Charity Awards entry, the charity explained that the biggest barrier to carer support is the delay in recognising that a person has assumed carer responsibilities. It can take unpaid, informal family carers two years, on average, to acknowledge themselves as such. And nearly 40 per cent of admissions to residential care are due to carer breakdown.
In partnership with the NHS, CCC developed the innovative GP Carers Services Prescription. This allows carers to visit their GP to explain their circumstances. GPs then offer a prescription for a visit to help decide the most appropriate form of support, which may be a short break. The scheme has created a culture of carer-aware GPs and surgeries by embedding carer-support solutions into everyday practice.
A pilot scheme was established across 16 surgeries and heavily monitored with a strong focus on measuring outcomes. By preparing a toolkit and GP training, CCC sought to demonstrate the value and ROI of a preventative early-intervention service. Central to this was the concept of a ‘prescription code’ for carers, which was used to create a database that GPs could access to identify and monitor them.
Results showed that after a year the numbers of carers known to GPs had increased by 50 per cent and CCC was able to demonstrate significant benefits for carers’ health and a reduction in hospital admissions. The scheme has now been rolled out to all 78 Cambridgeshire practices.