On Tuesday 6 June, Hucknall residents and carers Marilyn and Nicola Clifton, presented Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) with an Outstanding Achievement Award from Nottinghamshire Carers Association. PICS is now “Carer-friendly” accredited across the whole organisation, reflecting the “powerful, consistent and valuable contributions PICS teams in general practice, primary and community services make for carers in the communities it serves, and for its staff who are carers.” 

GP Receptionist Leanne Haywood was also presented with a special award for all PICS Carer Champions at Whyburn in Hucknall, Hama in Eastwood, Peacock in Carlton and Meden in Mansfield, recognising ‘everything they do across GP surgeries to support carers.’

In 2022, PICS became the first organisation in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to be awarded Carer-friendly Quality Marks as an employer and for services in General Practice, Social Prescribing and Care Navigation. This new award in 2023 reflects confidence that staff across PICS consistently ‘do more than enough’ to earn NCA’s coveted top award for all 35 of PICS services.

Dr Kerri Sallis, Clinical Director for Bryon Primary Care Network popped in between appointments with patients to say:

“This is fantastic recognition for the Whyburn team who have been working so hard in the background, finding and supporting people who look after their loved ones, friends and neighbours. Today we learned more about what works and where we can do more. I look forward to supporting more practices in the area to get carer-friendly accredited.”

A group of six women standing and smiling at the camera in front of branded banners with the PICS logo. Two are holding a framed certificate.

Nicola and Marilyn Clifton (far left and second from left) are carers and present Karen Frankland, Managing Director of PICS, with the accreditation

Karen Frankland, Managing Director of PICS thanked residents, staff and volunteers saying “I’m proud and privileged to receive this award on behalf of everyone at PICS. Making the journey better for residents and staff is at the heart of what PICS is all about. We know that caring is rewarding and that carers learn a lot of skills from their experience. We want to empower carers in Nottinghamshire and within PICS to live their life well, connect with their community, manage paid work, and feel appreciated.”

Carers week 2023: do you look after someone?

Carers week 2023 aims to recognise and support carers in the community. New data shows 19 million people in the UK with a caring role have never accessed support, with most being unaware of their caring status. GP surgeries are vital as the first port of call for a carer who becomes concerned about their own health or the health of the person they look after. Over the past two years, PICS and NCA have worked together to provide training and resources for healthcare professionals in General Practice and in the primary care teams that wrap around the surgeries.

It’s working! Notts Carer Hub has seen a massive increase in the number of carers being registered following contact with their GP surgery, and referrals from social prescribers have increased by 29 percent, with ‘most of them from the PICS teams’.

Stephanie Smith from Nottinghamshire Carers Association explained the impact: “PICS staff are excellent at having what can be a difficult conversation. It can be emotional, and you don’t want to upset someone, but unless someone helps you recognise that you are a carer, we know that most people will never access support.”

Case study: Marilyn and Nicola talk about how their practice supported them in their caring role

Image shows three people who are women in a discussion. They are sat down in a semi circle.

Left to right, Dr Kerri Sallis, GP and Clinical Director of Arrow Primary Care Network, Marilyn and Nicola Clifton, carers

As part of the event, Whyburn Medical Practice invited registered carers to hear about their experiences and gain insight into what more can be done to provide support. Marilyn Clifton, 76 from Hucknall, cares full time for her daughter Melanie, 53, who is non-verbal and disabled. Nicola Clifton, 48, helps her mother Marylin and her sister, as well as running her own cleaning business which employs 10 people across Nottinghamshire to Scunthorpe.

Two years ago, Marilyn’s husband and Melanie and Nicola’s father died from cancer following a period of illness. Marilyn is registered as a carer with her GP surgery and explains how they were supported:

“My husband went to hospital once he became really ill. I wasn’t allowed to go in and see him because of Covid restrictions. The consultant told me over the phone he was unconscious and hadn’t got long left. I said I wanted him home, but I didn’t have a care package for him so they couldn’t discharge him. I didn’t know what to do.

“My GP surgery called to ask how we were doing and I told him I wanted my husband home. They said to leave it with them – that was Monday. On the Tuesday morning a bed and other bits of equipment were delivered and my husband was home later that day. My GP surgery arranged visits throughout the days from nurses and pharmacists. They also got a night nurse in so I could sleep – my GP said I wouldn’t be able to stay up all night and I needed to take care of myself too. It meant to the world to us to be able to have him home.”


Nicola encouraged others to register as a carer: “We didn’t know of any carer support but we do now. As a carer, I want to know where to go for the help and advice we need, so it’s not just being at home and trying to google it.”


Marylin said: “We’ve learnt quite a bit. We didn’t know about the Nottinghamshire Carers Hub or the local carers group. My message to other carers is to go along to groups so that you can learn and help one another.”

Expert insight from Nottinghamshire Carers Association: why caring conversations in the community are vital

Six people who are women facing the camera and smiling while standing in front of PICS branded banners. Two are holding a framed certificate.

Stephanie Smith, far left, standing with her colleague from Nottinghamshire Carers Association, Alison, and some of the team at Whyburn Medical PRactice in Hucknall.

Stephanie Smith, from Nottinghamshire Carers Association, shares her insights into why PICS have been recognised and their positive, far reaching impact on the health and wellbeing of Nottinghamshire’s residents and caring community.

“Caring is very rewarding but can be very challenging, with carers at higher risk of chronic stress, heart disease, high blood pressure and type two diabetes. PICS staff have the systems and training in place so that when patients talk with a nurse, social prescriber or doctor, all of them can ask how they are getting on with their caring role. Residents are offered priority vaccines and annual health checks, staff enable respite support and care packages, provide information about social groups and other services, and have conversations focused on health and wellbeing.

“Having somebody in a General Practice surgery who keeps carers on the agenda and supports the whole team to think about carers is proven to work really well. It is also powerful for residents to know there is a champion and that the practice can provide specific support for carers, so information on notice boards and having people with lived experience of caring in patient participation groups helps too.

“What PICS Practices have done at Whyburn in Hucknall, Peacock in Carlton, Meden in Mansfield and Hama in Eastwood is consistently kept their carer champions. They’ve been accredited carer-friendly throughout the years and once again this year. PICS is the very first organisation we have come across since we formed four years ago that has consistently got the quality mark over their practices.

“It’s important because people take on new caring roles all the time. Carers are more likely to keep well if healthcare professionals can identify and support them early on in their caring journey. Having professionals in primary care who understand what carers are going through is vital.

“This event has showcased what’s going really well and also enabled the teams to find gaps and work out how to plug them, working in partnership with the wider community. The power of communication in the community also helps carers recognise their role and get support. As a community we can really make a difference. They need other services and information so the NCA are now going out to places like libraries, pubs, shops and leisure centres or organised walking groups to offer training and resources for these workforces too.

“Together we can make life really worthwhile and also avoid people going into crisis.”