Practices in Mid Dorset Primary Care Network (PCN) have been accredited for their exceptional support for their patients who are unpaid carers as part of the Better Care for Carers accreditation scheme.

The awards recognise and celebrate practices who have met a set criterion deemed important to carers, including having a named Carers Lead, maintaining an up-to-date carers register, providing clear information, making the surgery accessible with flexible appointments, and improving carer awareness amongst staff via training.

Practices can be awarded Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, depending on the services they offer. This year, a Bronze Plus award was created to recognise those practices that went above the requirements in Bronze but didn’t quite meet the criteria for Silver yet.

Of the nine practices in Mid Dorset PCN, two received Bronze, five received Bronze Plus, one received Silver and one practice received a Gold award, all an incredible achievement for the first year of the scheme in this area.

The scheme was project managed by Dorset HealthCare’s Carers Engagement Facilitator – GP Practices, Harriet Stevens, who said:

“The practices have worked incredibly hard over the past year. Locally in Mid Dorset, we have seen real change and improvement in not only identification of carers and the percentage of them accessing support from their GP, but their own accounts and experiences of using these services. It has been a pleasure to work with such passionate and enthusiastic people to develop creative, proactive and innovate approaches to supporting this vulnerable group of our patient population.”

The scheme made sure to work in partnership with carers so when making changes, it was done whilst listening to the views of those who will be affected.

Christine Carter is a carer and was a member of the steering group that met to support the progress of the scheme and said:

“I have benefitted hugely from being part of the Better Care for Carers scheme panel. I really do admire the team effort in the construction of this project, bringing the importance of carers to the foreground. Knowing that the surgery and doctors are there for me, to support and listen when I need their help means so much. It also encourages me to carry on with a light heart and a lot of love.”

The practices, carers and other professionals across Dorset came together on the 4 October at Dorchester Rugby Club for an Awards evening that celebrated what had been achieved and presented the practices with their accreditation certificates.

Claire Stickland, Practice Manager of Puddletown Surgery said:

“The Better Care for Carers scheme has had a big impact on how we work at the surgery with patients and staff who are carers. I am incredibly proud of our Carers Lead, Kate Trevett, and the wider team who have worked so hard to achieve our Gold level recognition. It’s been powerful to hear from carers about the positive impact that good care and support has had on them not only for their own health and wellbeing but also their ability to continue proving care to their loved one. I am committed to making sure as a surgery we continue to keep carers at the forefront of our minds and make sure we are providing them the right support and they get the help that they need.”

Social Prescriber and Carers Lead Sarah Milner received a Bronze Plus award for Prince of Wales Surgery and was part of the Better Care for Carers steering group and said:

“Meeting regularly with carers, professionals and other GP leads gave a very well rounded (and grounded) backdrop to the work we were doing. It has made handling difficult cases easier and signposting more direct and efficient. Us carers leads had lots of opportunities to feed back, ask for help and have one to one conversations about any specific challenges we were facing. The standardised templates for us to amend and use within our GP surgeries made the task of meeting criteria a lot easier and helped towards making a consistent offer for carers across the PCN”

Gillian Brindle, PCN Business Manager, who was part of the core group of people who set up the established and set up the scheme for Mid Dorset said:

“I am genuinely impressed by the hard work each of our carers leads has put in to establish the Better Care For Carers framework across their GP practice teams. The real heroes are those who selflessly provide care for others, and if what practices have done by engaging in Better Care for Carers helps in even the smallest way to support carers in accessing services as well as care for themselves, then we can justifiably be proud of our achievements.”

For more information about the scheme and how your surgery can support unpaid carers please contact