GP services for older people: a guide for care home managers

GPs' role in relation to the resident, the home and the wider NHS - The GP as point of access to primary and secondary care

GPs should be proactive in offering residents the wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic services in primary care, and full access through referral to acute and specialist hospital-based physical and mental health services. These can all contribute to maintaining each resident's health, wellbeing and independence. GPs should be aware that access to secondary services (e.g. mental health services) may be a problem for older people in care homes.

The GP's role

The Royal College of General Practitioners defines the GP's role as follows:

GPs assess, diagnose, treat and manage illness. They carry out screening for some cancers and promote general health and wellbeing. GPs act as a patient's advocate, supporting and representing a patient's best interests to ensure they receive the best and most appropriate health and/or social care. GPs also provide the link to further health services and work closely with other healthcare colleagues to help develop those services.

The practice team includes other staff, and other professionals may be based in the practice premises. The team can include practice nurses, nurse practitioners, practice managers, health care assistants, physician assistants, receptionists and clerical staff. Pharmacists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, midwives, district nurses, health visitors and other health professionals may be based in the same building as the GP practice, although they are generally employed by the NHS.

Excellent, we are lucky to have somebody who is aggressive in the good sense of the word. She (the GP) covers the bases and tells us what we need to do if we need direction, there are rarely gaps.

Care home manager [24]

Proactive medical care

Home managers and senior staff should be aware of the importance of proactive anticipatory medical care. Many residents have multiple health and care needs on residential admission, and others may experience declining health and capacity as part of the ageing process. Care homes should consider what measures they can put in place to maintain residents' independence and mobility, and prevent or delay deterioration and loss of function. Prompt responses to events like a stroke are known to have a major impact on residents' chance of recovery. Early identification of the onset of dementia can enable residents to access suitable medication, and allow the individual and their family to prepare and make plans for coping with the impact of the condition.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • Evidence review on partnership working between GPs, care home residents and care homes
  • GP services for older people: a guide for care home managers
  • Improving access to and experience of GP services for older people living in care homes: practice survey