For this month’s blog I’m handing over to the Richmond Carers Centre who have kindly contributed a guest blog…
A CARER is someone of any age, who, without payment, provides care and support to a partner, child, relative, friend or neighbour, who could not manage without their help. This could be due to age, physical or mental illness, addiction or disability.
Anyone can become a carer and often carers do not realise for some time that this is what they are
Many feel they are just doing their duty as a friend or family member and no more than anyone else in their situation would do. Becoming a carer is not a choice that people make, it is the outcome of a change in circumstance and they simply get on with it.
Caring for someone brings huge responsibilities and can place additional demands on carers that can lead to problems maintaining employment, financial difficulties, feelings of isolation, stress and carers’ own mental and physical wellbeing can also be significantly impacted.
Richmond Carers Centre is a local charity supporting unpaid carers from ages five and up with advice, information and support. We can help you find the right support for your situation and have included in this article, examples of things you may want to think about that can help you in your caring role.
Think about having a Carers Assessment
As part of the Care Act 2014, the council is obliged to provide Carers Assessments, which helps to ensure that your needs as a carer are taken into account. The assessor will discuss with you the physical, emotional and practical impact that caring has on you and the assessments may be carried out alongside a needs assessment for the person you care for but this is entirely up to you. If you do not feel comfortable discussing your needs in front of the person you care for you are welcome to have the assessments conducted separately. More information can be found here.
Be Aware of your Feelings
Be aware that you may experience a number of negative feelings as a result of your caring role, such as guilt, resentment, feelings of isolation, loneliness and that you are missing out. You may also experience stress, anxiety or fear, possibly during the periods you are away from the person you care for. Be reassured that this is normal as a result of caring and that there are professionals you can speak with to help you manage these feelings.
Be Assertive with Professionals
Tell your doctor that you are a carer and ask them to add it to your medical record so that they can refer to this should you develop any medical needs of your own. It also lets other medical professionals know that there is someone depending on you should you be taken ill. In addition to this you can register with the Carers Emergency Card Scheme (run by the council) on completing a Carers Assessment to help protect the person you care for.
Look After your own Health and Wellbeing
It’s very easy to put your own needs resolutely behind those of the person you care for but it is just as important to make sure you maintain your physical and mental health and wellbeing so that you are better able to cope with the demands of caring and can reduce your risk of injury or illness. This includes things like taking regular exercise/activity, taking a break from your caring role, regular social interaction and making sure you have time to do things you need/want to do for you.
Consider the Difficult Decisions
Consider the difficult decisions you may be faced with in the future as a result of your caring role. This could include anything from future accommodation needs, the possibility of paid-for care by organisation who come into your home and the cost and necessity of any likely equipment to managing someone’s financial affairs, your ability to continue working, or the possibility of furthering your education.
Work to Maintain Relationships with those Around you
Relationships between carers and the cared for can come under strain very quickly as can relationships between the carer and friends or wider family members, often due to a lack of communication or understanding around the carer’s situation. Carers Trust recently launched an online Relationship Guide to help carers manage their relationships whilst caring for someone.
Get the Right Information and Advice Quickly
By making sure you have all the information you can regarding your rights, eligibility for services, support available, benefits, medications, navigating the system and anything else that may be relevant to your specific caring situation, you are in a better position to ensure you get the right support when you need it. Richmond Carers Centre provides free and confidential advice, information and support over the phone, by email and in person at the centre. Any carer who registers with us can access additional support services such as our leisure and activities programme, workshops, social mornings and evenings, complementary therapies and counselling.