As a carer, what help can I get from my doctor?
GPs are usually the first place that carers have contact with the NHS. And they are well placed to recognise that someone is, or is about to become, a carer.

You should let your GP know that you are a carer and ask if this could be registered on your medical record. As a carer you are entitled to an annual flu jab and your GP practice may offer additional services to carers, such as a regular health check or a carers’ support group.

Carers are at a much higher risk of becoming ill themselves and your GP can help to keep you fit and well by offering regular health checks and by recognising the effects caring can have on your  health, such as depression and back pain.

GPs can give information about aspects of a treatment or medical procedure planned for the person you care for and can offer advice on the skills you need as a carer, such as how to change a dressing or give medication. The relationship between GP and carer should be viewed as a partnership in care.

The person you care for may also be able to access practical support through the NHS. This could include equipment such as wheelchairs, or supplies to help with incontinence. For more information about help that might be available, talk to your GP or practice nurse.

What support is there in hospital for me as a carer?
Our Hospital Carer Liaison Workers are based in hospitals at University Hospitals Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trusts. They can:

  • Provide help, support and advice to carers through their hospital journey as a carer and/or patient, working directly on hospital wards.
  • Liaise between the discharge team, busy ward staff and carers and their family.
  • Support staff to implement the Carers Charter that your Trust has signed up for.

The service is currently being piloted on a few wards. However if you need any advice or require support on another ward, please contact us.

Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI)
Jamie de Carvalho
07557 441 613

Carer Support Scheme
The Carer Support Scheme is for carers supporting and providing care to a person in hospital. It enables carers to have a Carer Identity Sticker at Southmead Hospital allowing you to receive reduced rates for parking and receive a discount at the hospital canteen.

As part of the scheme, staff are encouraged to use a Carer Conversation Form. This means that ward staff should be discussing your needs as a carer and what you would like your role to be whilst your loved one is in hospital.

For more information see ‘Information for Carers’ on the NBT website: information for carers.

What do I need to know about hospital discharge?
If the person you are looking after goes into hospital, they shouldn’t be discharged until all of the following criteria have been fulfilled:

  • They are medically fit (this can only be decided by the consultant or someone the consultant has said can make the decision on their behalf).
  • They have had an assessment to look at the support they’ll need to be discharged safely.
  • A care plan needs to be set up, outlining the support they’ll get to meet their assessed needs. As a carer you can be involved in these discussions if the person you care for is happy for this to happen.
  • The support described in their care plan has been put in place and it’s safe for them to be discharged.

As a carer, if the person you look after gives their permission, you should be kept informed throughout the process, and have your views and concerns listened to. You should also have a choice about whether you’ll provide care when the person you look after leaves hospital.

A multi-disciplinary team may be involved in preparing for the discharge. That could include ward staff, a social worker, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist. Carers should be invited to discuss plans with the team at a discharge meeting.

Red Cross Home from Hospital service in South Glos
The Red Cross provides a Home from Hospital service in South Gloucestershire and Bristol. Trained volunteers can provide companionship while assisting you with everyday tasks such as shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing general support in the home, for up to 6 weeks. To find out more and make a referral contact the British Red Cross Home from Hospital team: 0117 301 2601.

Support for carers of people with learning disabilities who are going into hospital
Hospital passports
Hospital passports (also known as patient profiles) have been developed for use with people with learning disabilities who are going into hospital. They help to provide information necessary for appropriate care planning and discharge arrangements.

The profile can be filled in before a planned admission or kept at home and brought in to hospital in the event of an emergency admission.

You can download a hospital passport or patient profile from the North Bristol NHS Trust website or the UH Bristol website.

This is Me
The Alzheimer’s Society produces a booklet called This is Me for patients with dementia who are going into hospital. For more information see the Alzheimer’s website.

Traffic light assessment
You, as the carer, can also request a ‘traffic light assessment’ for the person you care for. This is a way of letting hospital staff know important information about the patient. Red stands for things they must know about the patient eg clinical notes, issues around consent, power of attorney. Amber stands for things that are important, such as routines. And green stands for likes and dislikes.

How can I improve services for carers?
Both hospital trusts want to work more closely with carers and understand what your experience of using the hospitals has been. You can do this by:

  • contacting us with your general feedback and experiences
  • joining the Carers Reference Group at UH Bristol
  • taking part in consultations about potential service changes
  • being involved in interviews, focus groups, or completing a carers diary, as part of our carers project evaluation
  • becoming a volunteer and helping to provide information to carers within the hospital sites.

Carers’ input was  vital in developing the  Carers Charter that covers all hospitals in Bristol and South Glos,  setting out what you can expect from them as a carer. The Carers Charter covers the following:

  • recognising carers as equal partners in care
  • supporting carers
  • sharing information
  • young carers
  • discharge

You can view the charter here:  Carers charter

If you would be happy to get involved or want further information contact:
Richard Fox
Hospital Carer Liaison Manager
Tel: 07825 299 112

What do I do if I have a problem or want to make a complaint about health care?
If you have a complaint about your doctor or any medical treatment the person you care for receives from the NHS, you can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). They can give you general advice and help to negotiate for you about your complaint.

PALS Bristol PCT: open 9.30 to 16.30 Monday to Friday
Helpline: 0117 900 3433

PALS South Gloucestershire PCT, Emersons Green: open 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday
0800 073 0907

PALS Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Chippenham: open 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday
01249 468261