More than just a partner/parent/child?*

*delete as appropriate.

You're not 'just' anything. You could actually be a carer.

You might be helping someone with emotional support, to seek help and advice, to cook and clean, to manage their finances, to have their voice heard, to make sure they are safe in their home or helping them get out and about. Care isn’t always about personal care like washing or going to the toilet.

Whilst a rewarding experience, caring for someone can also be challenging: carers may be juggling work, family or their own health issues and having someone else’s needs constantly at the forefront of your mind can be emotionally exhausting.

Thankfully, our Health Portal has a single page dedicated to carers with links to local and national support resources where you can get advice, information and resources.

Wave, don’t drown

If people don’t know you are a carer, you won’t get the information and support you need to help you in your caring role. 

Carers have new legal rights and entitlements, so first and foremost, make sure you let social services and your GP know you are a carer.  Whilst your there, why not ask for a free health check too.

For advice and support, see our Health Portal where you will also find information on planning your support.

Staying well

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on you. There are a number of practical things you can do to make your daily caring role easier.

Healthy mind

There are times when a little bit of distance helps put issues in perspective and respite care provides time apart for you and the person they care for to refresh and recharge. For extra reassurance, emergency respite is also available if you fall ill or are involved in an emergency. 

When planning your support, a carer's assessment will also look at how much sleep you get as you may be able to get help paying for overnight paid care workers.  

Sharing some of the responsibility is a good way to “spread the load” but it can sometimes be difficult for families and friends to get together to co-ordinate what needs to be done.  RallyRound is a free and extremely helpful web-based tool for people in your support network to organise who does what using their mobile phones. As tasks are added, friends and family can choose what they can do and get handy reminders by text or email to make sure nothing is forgotten.

Healthy body

When planning your support, a carer's assessment will look at what your caring role involves (including lifting, handling and moving) and will look at how best to help you do this. You may be able to get training, advice and suitable equipment or adaptations for your home. 

A healthy diet is key to physical health, and if  time to cook is limited or you need something easy that the person you care for can manage for themselves, you may be able to use Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance or Carer's Allowance to get meals delivered to your home.  If this is not possible, don’t use your respite time going shopping – consider shopping online.

Healthy connections

When you become a carer, the nature of your relationship with the person you care for may change. The Carers Trust has a dedicated website to help carers adjust to this new role and the different (and difficult) feelings and emotions that can arise such as loneliness, exhaustion, depression, shock, resentment and even anger.

It may be helpful to talk to other carers and there are several carers groups in the area which can be found on our community map.  Your views as a carer are also important and if you get the opportunity, please get involved in the national Adults Social Care survey or local forums to help improve services for carers.

Watch local carers, Kaz and Dave, talk about how important they have found it to stay connected to people around them:

This is the second in our series of Let's Take Care of Our Carers articles. Our previous article was about becoming a carer and preparing for that role.  Our next article will be about building a life after caring.