Health and happiness

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CARERS in Morpeth can now get their own health MOT as part of a pilot scheme.

Community nurses working from GP surgeries across the county are offering health and well-being checks, including home visits.

And the Greystoke Surgery in Morpeth is one of four venues to provide additional carer support as part of a pilot.

The health checks, which typically take an hour, are carried out by nurses who assess the carers’ physical, mental and emotional health. They can then be supported to access any treatment or services they may need.

Patricia Lemmon, from Morpeth, cares for her husband who has Alzheimer’s Disease. She found out about the health checks from her GP.

“The health check was really worthwhile, not all carers have the time to come to their GP for help, so having home visits was really useful,” she said.

“And having the opportunity to have a health MOT and talk to the nurse in detail about what I do for my husband and how it affects me both emotionally and physically was really useful.

“The main thing for me was finding out who to go to for support. I felt reassured that I was not on my own.”

Northumberland was chosen as one of a number of Department of Health Demonstrator sites to carry out carer health checks. Northumberland Care Trust recruited three nurses and linked with GPs on specific projects following a successful bid for £525,000 funding last year.

The project, offering enhanced support to carers within four GP surgeries — the others are in Berwick, Hexham and Haltwhistle — is being delivered by Carers Northumberland.

It involves raising awareness with health workers on carer issues and helping to develop new procedures to identify and refer more carers onto the pilot scheme. It also offers carer support appointments and has information points at the four surgeries.

Dr Matt Kurian at Greystoke Surgery said: “We’ve found the pilot really useful and we’ve received very positive feedback from our patients about the health checks. It’s helped us to support more carers and to develop closer links with carers and the people they look after.

“And if a health problem is detected during the health check, it is often easily treatable and we can follow this up with carers and offer them guidance on where they can go if they need extra help and information about other services and support.”

Since taking part in the pilot, the surgery now has 50 percent more carers registered with the practice and similar trends are evident from the others taking part.

Information about carer health and well-being checks is available from Carers Northumberland on 0844 8007354, or visit www.carersnorthumberland.org.uk