The concept of 'care planning' to support patients with long term conditions comes to life in an innovative three-minute video animation, launched on 16 January by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The video, narrated by RCGP President Professor Mike Pringle, uses fast-moving, cartoon-style images to depict a typical 10-minute GP consultation with an elderly patient with multiple and complex illnesses.
'Rose' is cared for by her daughter but is also responsible for caring for her grandchild with behavioural difficulties.
Her GP wants to do the best he can for her but the constraints of the 10-minute appointment mean that there is little time other than to repeat her prescription, take her blood pressure, and arrange follow-up appointments.
So he suggests a different - and better - way forward.
Care planning is a holistic, long-term approach to delivering patient care that aims to help people take more control over their own health - with the support of their GP practice - and stay well.
The premise of good care planning is that patients with complex needs, as well as their family members and carers, meet with a care planning team based in their local GP surgery before the GP-patient consultation.
The team takes into account the patient's physical, mental and social needs in order to develop a plan to effectively deliver their long-term care, based on their individual circumstances.
With an ageing and growing population and more patients needing treatment for multiple conditions, good care planning allows GPs and patients to make the most of the consultation and puts the focus on delivering care that will make a tangible and long-term difference to patients' lives.
The recent independent Inquiry into Patient Centred Care in the 21st Century, commissioned by the RCGP, recommended that all GP practices follow a personalised care planning approach for any patient in need of proactive care. This could include patients with long-term conditions, those with learning disabilities, and those living with multiple conditions.
Today's video release coincides with the launch of the College's Collaborative Care and Support Planning programme, a three year piece of work funded by the Health Foundation which aims to encourage the adoption of the care planning approach within general practice.
Professor Nigel Mathers, RCGP Honorary Secretary and Chair of the Coalition for Collaborative Care, said: "Good care and support planning is the solution to so many of the problems that GPs are facing in trying to provide high quality care to more patients but with limited resources.
"It has the potential to improve the lives of the one in four people in England who are living with at least one long-term condition and to reduce admissions to hospital.
"Yet we know it is not being widely used, largely because it can be a difficult concept to get across and for people to understand.
"This short animation is a new way of explaining how it works in an effective but entertaining way.
"We hope it will prove to be an invaluable resource for all GPs and health professionals working in primary care.
"Care planning for many is a new way of working for GPs and their teams and it might sound daunting.
"But in the long-run, care planning will actually reduce pressures on general practice - and bring us a major step closer to providing the patient centred care that our patients need and deserve, and that GPs are striving to provide."