81% BME carers given inadequate advice by GPs, report finds

Croydon’s family doctors need to recognise the roles of black and Asian carers and support them more by referring them to relevant services, according to research published today by Healthwatch Croydon.

Among its findings, the Healthwatch report found that fewer than 2 in 10 BME carers were given full advice about the support services available to them by their GPs.

Healthwatch’s survey found that 81% of black and Asian carers were not given advice on available support by their GPs

The study, Black and Minority Ethnic Carers and their experiences of GP Services in Croydon, looked at issues such as recognising the caring role, carer’s health and the impact of caring on their health, cultural issues, access and confidence of the GP.

There could be as many as black and Asian 15,000 carers in Croydon, based on the known number of registered carers in the borough (33,000) and the proportion of Croydon’s population that is from BME communities.

The Healthwatch report says that Croydon GPs are not sufficiently recognising the caring role or referring carers to the Croydon Carers’ Support Centre and other support services.

One carer, looking after their father, told today’s report’s authors: “Doctors made the assumption that because he had a good unit, a family around him, that we were all capable and will do the looking after him, that all individuals within the family will get involved, we will all become carers, especially within the Asian community.”

The report made a series of recommendations:

  • GP practices should ensure that there is a specialist section focusing on BME issues and support in their carers’ policy.
  • GP practices should consider implementing unconscious bias training to unpick assumptions about BME culture and lifestyles and positively address these issues.
  • Each GP practice should have a Carers’ lead who links with the Croydon Carers’ Support Centre and specific BME organisations to give relevant carers appropriate
    sources of support.
  • All GP practices should have a Carers Register which should be reviewed regularly
    to ensure appropriate service is given to those who need it.
  • GP practices should develop best practice with reference to carer support and a
    carer awareness culture working with Croydon’s Carers Support Centre.
  •  A CCG carer champion network should be created bringing together Healthwatch
    Croydon and relevant partner agencies.

John Davey, the chair of Healthwatch Croydon, said: “The varying quality in services given to BME carers indicates a need to implement better support across the board so that all BME carers in Croydon feel recognised and supported.

“It is encouraging to see some GPs ensuring that carers are supported and heard, particularly through the use of care navigators. However, some practices need to be more aware of unintentional bias based on cultural assumptions.”

Helen Thompson, the Carers’ Support Centre manager, said: “Last year’s GP patient survey found that carers are more likely to experience long-term health issues and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, so it’s essential for GPs to be aware of their needs. Yet despite these additional risks, 81 per cent of carers told us that their GP had never informed them of support for their caring role.

“We support Healthwatch Croydon’s recommendations and look forward to working with Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group and local GPs to make sure Croydon carers get the help they need.”

Read today’s Croydon Healthwatch report here.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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