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Pharmacists are Gateway to Support for Carers


Launching a new initiative in the South Eastern Local Commissioning Group area for community pharmacists to identify carers and signpost them to support services are ICP pharmacists Philip Boyle, Joanne McMullan and Patricia Finnegan, with Joan Scott (second left) from the South Eastern Trust's Carers Support Service.

A new partnership scheme aimed at providing support to carers in the community has been launched across the South Eastern Local Commissioning Group area.

The Community Pharmacy Carers Support Service encourages pharmacists to identify people looking after someone with an illness, disability or who are frail due to being older. The pharmacist will then refer the carer, with their consent, on to the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust’s Carers Support Service. Once referred carers will be able to access the valuable support available to them which they would not have previously been aware of.

The pilot initiative was created in partnership with South Eastern Local Commissioning Group and South Eastern Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs), which brought together the community pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, as well as voluntary and community representatives and service users and carers,  all vital for designing an effective new service.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust’s Carer Development Officer, Joan Scott, explained the role of the service.

“Pharmacists, with the carer’s consent, will forward their details to the Carers Support Service within the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. We will provide information about support available locally from relevant statutory, voluntary and local community based services. Carers can also speak to a staff member in one of the teams locally to help identify how they can be supported in their role.”

“This is a confidential service for carers and can be accessed even if the cared for person doesn’t want any services or support. It won’t affect any benefits and is designed to support carers to prevent their caring role from becoming overwhelming,” she added.

Louise Seymour, pharmacist with the South Eastern Local Commissioning Group, said: “On a daily basis, 10% of the population will visit a community pharmacy, so it’s a good place to identify members of the community who are caring for others and need some support themselves. We need carers who are well to stay well and the Community Pharmacy Carers Support Service helps identify these carers to ensure they can receive the help they need.”

“Many people take on elements of a caring role without fully recognising themselves as carers but they too may require support. Caring responsibilities can include managing medication, keeping someone safe, taking someone to appointments, managing finances, personal care or household tasks.

“Anyone in a caring role can speak to the pharmacist in confidence to find out what help is available to them,” said Louise.

Ards ICP committee member and pharmacist Patricia Finnegan said pharmacists are well placed to offer this service.

“We see the difficulties faced by carers first hand on a daily basis. Carers can trust the pharmacist to deal with them in a confidential and empathetic manner. This pharmacy service will make access to support easier for carers to enable them to continue to care for their loved ones, while maintaining their own health and wellbeing,” she said.

Over 40 pharmacists across the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust have signed up to take part in the scheme. A full list can be found here

More information for carers is available at http://www.hscboard.hscni.net/support-for-carers/