One of the most useful actions we can take as carers is to inform our GPs that we have a caring role. This enables GPs to give us the right support, both with caring for our loved ones and looking after our own physical and mental health. When we become carers, the first step to getting support is to register with the GP and fill in a carer’s registration form. If you know someone who is a carer, encourage them to let the GP know – in the long run, it is the best solution to finding practical help.

Here are 8 reasons why we should register as carers with our GPs:

  1. GPs can tailor their help to your needs

When the GP knows that we are carers, many things become easier. The GP can provide the right care for our needs and lifestyle. For example, the GP can arrange for home visits or house calls, instead of us and the person we care for both having to come out to attend an appointment at the surgery.

The GP may also be able to arrange double appointments, so that we can see the doctor and receive treatment at the same time as the person we care for.

  1. The GP is looking out for you, as well as the person you care for

However we see our own roles, our GP cares as much about us and our health as they do about the people we care for. Of course, most of us would go and see the doctor if we were concerned about our physical health, but we can also go if we are concerned about our mental health or feel that we are not coping. It is important to get help and advice before it is too late – if we neglect our own health, we risk letting down the person we care for too.

Registering with the GP allows us to access the help we need. Knowing that we are carers helps the GP to understand the context of our needs, and help us return to health.

  1. Supporting young carers

If our children are young carers, they are entitled to regular check ups and mental health screening through the GP’s surgery. This is because health care professionals both understand the pressure that young carers can be under, and have the expertise to provide the right support.

  1. Access to vaccinations

Catching a virus and falling ill is not a risk that carers can afford to take. If we become ill, who will fill the breach? By registering as carers or young carers with the GP, we can be prioritised for vaccinations. In turn, this lessens the chance of us passing a dangerous virus to our loved one.

  1. Repeat prescriptions

GPs know that popping out to pick up a prescription isn’t always easy. When the GP knows that we are carers, they can arrange for repeat prescriptions to be collected locally or even delivered, depending on availability.

  1. Sign letters and provide official documentation

When we apply for benefits like carer’s allowance, we need to demonstrate that we are carers. The GP can fill in their portion of the paperwork to verify that we really are fulfilling a caring role. A letter from the GP can also form part of your application for a Blue Badge, entitling you to priority parking when you are travelling with the disabled person you care for.

  1. Access to additional primary care services

Most GP surgeries have additional primary care services. There is usually a practice nurse, who will carry out routine health checks for both you and the person you care for. If there is a district nurse, they can provide home visits. In addition, they can offer practical tips from their own experience, and show you how to use home care equipment like adjustable beds and hoists.

  1. Signposting additional services

GPs are in the perfect position to point us in the right direction of other services that might help us. This might be a support group for carers, or help with giving up smoking and maintaining a more healthy lifestyle. GPs can also connect us with adult social care or local volunteers.

When we register with the GP as both a patient and a carer, we can access more help than if we tried to go it alone. Whether we just benefit from more convenient appointments or make dramatic changes for the better, there are many benefits to registering as a carer.