GPs’ Roles in Health and Social Care

Despite having two distinct systems, healthcare and social care have strong links. GPs have a crucial role in both systems.

The rise of industrialisation bought with it great social deprivation and the decline of close-knit communities. This led to the development of mutually owned societies that provided rudimentary social work and medical services in return for insurance-like subscriptions.
The role of the local authority

Local authorities have a statutory duty to facilitate a diverse, sustainable, high quality care market. They must also take steps to mitigate risks around service interruptions and provider failures.

To do this, they must understand the wider picture of health and social care. That requires a holistic approach, which must be supported by a coordinated national strategy and funding.
The role of the GP

GPs often act as strategic networkers, connecting patients to other care professionals and services. However, this is a role that varies across teams.

Several national and state policy initiatives to improve integrated care have emerged over the last ten years, including efforts to screen for social risk in primary care clinics, build new cross-sector partnerships, and integrate health with community services.
The role of the social worker

Social workers bridge the gap between medical care and emotional support for patients. They conduct psychosocial assessments of patients (and their families) and identify factors that may influence their recovery.

They also help connect patients to long-term services (home healthcare, meal delivery, financial assistance) and lead therapeutic groups. They often participate in policy research on health programs. They are also involved in the ethical aspect of patient care.
The role of the nurse

Nurses have long been involved in addressing social care needs. They provide information and advice, assess care needs, arrange short-term support or reablement and safeguard vulnerable individuals.

They also play a vital role in informing health-related public policy at the community and system levels. This often includes highlighting health disparities and SDOH. They may also act as patient advocates. This involves protecting their medical, legal, and human rights.
The role of the physiotherapist

Physiotherapists assess, treat and guide patients in managing musculoskeletal pain. They also conduct ergonomic classes to help people maintain good posture.

Physiotherapists can be integrated into PHC teams in a variety of ways. The orientation process is important for preparing physiotherapists and their organization for the role. Other influential factors include a physiotherapist’s actions and values regarding PHC. Also, a physiotherapist must be knowledgeable about the patient’s current health status.
The role of the occupational therapist

OTs recognise that everyone is unique and will provide interventions tailored to your needs. These may include training to use new equipment or routines to help you complete tasks.

The OT will assess your needs to create a treatment plan including short- and long-term goals. They will also consider any equipment or home adaptations needed. Mrs C’s OT helped her get a profiling bed and this has enabled her to go out more.
The role of the speech and language therapist

Speech and language therapists work in a variety of settings including community health centres, hospital wards, children’s and rehabilitation hospitals. They often collaborate with other professionals such as dieticians, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

In school settings, they may be responsible for developing Individualised Education Programs and collaborating with teachers to ensure that students receive the support that they need. They also often mentor SLPAs and clinical fellows.
The role of the pharmacist

Pharmacists can offer expertise in chronic disease management, particularly for conditions with long treatment regimens like hypertension and diabetes. They can also help with medication adherence and help patients to develop healthy habits.

However, many of the respondents interviewed highlighted that pharmacists who perform public health activities at the micro level are not adequately compensated. They also need to be included in governance models for care delivery.
The role of the chiropodist

Chiropodists can be found in private clinics in the community and some also provide foot care services at health centres, long term care homes and family health teams. Many private health insurance providers cover chiropodist visits and receipts can be used for income tax health deduction purposes.

While most countries have adopted the term podiatry for foot doctors, the province of Ontario in Canada still uses chiropodist. Podiatrists can perform surgical procedures on the foot bones and order diagnostic X-rays.

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