Nine things carers love (or would love) their GP to do

As part of our "I like it when..." series, we are sharing what our community likes to see, hear and feel, from different services. Starting with our GPs.

Being an unpaid carer can be emotionally and physically exhausting, but there are some simple things our GPs can do to help.

To make us feel heard, improve our own health outcomes, minimise our logistical challenges, reduce our exasperation, and simply improve our day-to-day lives.

What follows are genuine comments shared by our own carer community.

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Would it be helpful to share with with your local surgery?

I like it when my GP...

1. Allows me to book with the GP I want and knows the whole picture

“I can book with the named Doctor, who knows our complicated medical history, so I don’t have to repeat myself and worry I’ve missed something.”
“Saving me from repeating myself and building the 'whole family' context is really important for us to receive the support we need.”
“It really helps if a GP has built up a relationship with us and really understands the WHOLE situation - not just that day’s issue.”

2. Makes me feel listened to

“I like it when my GP listens to me and gives me time to voice my concerns.”
“Automatically turns and asks me (eyes meeting) “and how are you doing?” following an appointment about my youngest son.”
“Moves away from his desk leans forward as if to capture all the unspoken words.”

3. Doesn't make me have to repeat myself

“Our GP practice has lots of doctors now and I wish they would read over the notes before we go in, so they can refresh the background and save us repeating a long list of medical issues.”
“Knows how stressful my caring role is so I don't have to repeat why I am so stressed and tired.”

4. Is easy to contact and has a booking system that works flexibly around carers’ complex logistics

“Books me and my husband in for flu vaccination in the same slot.”
“Finally recognised all my daughters medical visits needed to be at home.”
“Helps me to get an appointment time that minimises logistical challenges for me. When my children were young it was so difficult to take my disabled daughter to an after school appointment, as I had to take all three of them.”
“I end up on hold, then the appointments are gone - then I have to call back at 3pm and try again. I often forget (despite setting an alarm), as I’m so engrossed in my caring role. And then another day has passed.”
“The 8:30am slot to phone and book an ‘urgent’ appointment is really tricky when you have other children to get to school!”.

5. Has empathy. Is emotionally supportive and aware of the mental load on us.

“My GP gave me a big hug and let me have a good cry.”
“Actually sees me.”
“Understands when I’m struggling and listens and says she can understand why I’m finding things tough.”
“Doesn’t judge me.”

6. Is proactive and keeps us in mind

“Checking in on everything, that support is priceless.”
“As carers, we leave ourselves and our health to the very last. Someone proactively checking in would be great - and supports me to take better care of myself.”
“Ensure my husband has regular blood tests.”
“Proactively invites us to our flu jabs.”

7. Registers us as a carer

“Registered me as a carer with ease and actually proactively called me to arrange this, so I could get my vaccines.”

8. Trusts us

“It would be great if the receptionists didn’t need to hear every detail, especially when I need someone to see my daughter. Talking about her always makes me cry which I would rather not do so publicly. Just trust that we need the appointment.”
“Knows that after 20 years of caring for my partner, I am something of an expert in their care.”

9. Offers longer appointments for carers

“If the GP doesn't rush appointments and say they can only take one request, I'll have to book another appointment. When I call again they don't have anything for 2 weeks.”
“Allows me to talk about all health concerns in one appointment. Not ‘one thing per appointment’.”
“Supports me with holistic care for myself - not just painkillers/sticking plasters - helping me get to the root cause of the problem and manage it.”

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What's next?

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