Looking After Yourself
Caring for someone can be really rewarding but it can put a lot of demand on you both emotionally and physically. Unfortunately research shows that carers in a heavy caring role are more likely to suffer from health problems themselves, both mentally and physically. As a carer it’s important that you take the time to look after your own health and wellbeing.
Carers often suffer ill health due their caring responsibilities so it’s important to let your GP know you are a carer. This can be recorded on your medical records. If you have not seen your GP for a while, arrange a health check.
GPs can be an important source of information and advice on services provided by the NHS such as continence services and patient transport to hospital appointments.
As a carer of someone who is frail or has a serious or chronic health condition you may be eligible for an annual flu vaccination. Ask your GP practice how they can support you as a carer.
Have regular check-ups
Although your life as a carer can be busy and your attention is focused on caring, it’s important to consider your own health needs. Make time for your medical appointments and attend regular check-ups and screenings. If you have not seen your GP for some time, why not arrange a health check?
Carers Bucks runs a support groups, workshops and training information programme. The sessions give carers the opportunity to learn skills and information; Understanding Stress, Depression and Anxiety, Introduction to Mindfulness, Five Ways to Wellbeing, Technology and You, Lasting Power of Attorney, First Aid, Emergency Planning and Infection Detection and Dehydration.
As well as learning skills, the sessions give carers the opportunity to meet carers in similar situations and to share common experiences, frustrations and information.
Carers can contact Carers Bucks for individual support either over the phone or by visiting our offices.
Our Support Workers are always available for you to talk to, both in a crisis and if you want to talk about your situation more generally. The support available is free and confidential.
A balanced diet will keep your body strong and give you enough energy to provide the best care for the person you are caring for and yourself. Also make sure you get regular exercise and look after your back. See Carers UK – Back Pain Guide for more information.
Breaks or time off from caring are important. Whether it’s an hour every day, a couple of hours a week or a two-week holiday, we all need some time to ourselves, and carers are no exception. Taking a break can recharge the batteries and give you the energy to carry on caring. Without an occasional break you are more likely to become exhausted or even unwell.
Having a break also means that the person you care for has a change of scene, a chance to talk to and meet other people. It may also make life easier in an emergency if there are regular alternative arrangements already in place.
For further information about taking a break visit Carers UK – Taking A Break.
If you want to have a longer break, with or without the person you care for, here are some of the options (if you are caring for an adult):
- A respite break/short stay in a residential home for the person you care for
- A care agency/care worker to live in your home while you take a break
- A sitting service i.e. someone coming into your home to stay with the person you care for while you go out for a short time
- The person you care for attending a day centre or other activity on a regular basis
- A holiday for yourself or together with the person you care for
Breaks for carers
The Kiloran Trust is a charity that was set up with the specific aim of providing residential supportive breaks for carers. It has a house in London where carers can stay for a few days break without the person they care for. The house has been opened in 1996 and in that time has welcomed over 2500 visitors. Their rates are subsidised and help can be provided for carers on a low income.
Breaks for carers and their families
Bristol and South Gloucestershire Carers Centre provide affordable holidays and mini breaks aimed at carers and their families. They have 2 and 3 bedroomed caravans in the Cotswolds and Torbay in Devon which have been adapted for disabled visitors.
Here are some links to other holiday providers for carers and people with disabilities:
Some of the options if you are caring for a child:
If you are eligible, Buckinghamshire Council Adult Social Care may be able to help with the costs of a break or extra support in the home. The person you care for will need to have an assessment and as part of a care package Social Services may pay all or part of, for example, sessions at a day centre or a respite break in a care home.
As a carer you are entitled to a carer’s assessment which looks at your right to have a break, amongst other things. If you are eligible Social Services may be able to fund a sitting service so you can have a break or pursue education/learning opportunities or pay for a respite break.
Make sure you and the person you care for are claiming all the benefits and discounts to which you are entitled and which will help with the costs of respite or a sitting service. Contact us to see how to get a benefits check.
You may have enough income or savings to be able to pay for a break yourself but in all likelihood you will need to organise it yourself. Contact contact us for information and advice on how to go about this.
If you want to look for a residential home visit, Care Quality Commission. They inspect care homes and details of the home’s rating and inspection reports are available on the website. Age UK has produced a checklist for choosing a care home.
People aged 65 and older have the highest risk of falling, with 30% of people older than 65 and 50% of people older than 80 falling at least once a year (NICE CG161). As well as personal injury, falls can also affect confidence – and through raising awareness we hope to reduce the number of falls in Buckinghamshire. Please take the time to watch this 10 minute presentation to help support you in proactively taking steps that can help to reduce your falls risk. Please feel free to share this presentation with your friends, family and carers. We want people to proactively listen to this voiceover and to consider their own falls risk.
Advanced Care Plan (ACP) is a process in which you can think, talk and write about what is important to you, and describe the kind of care you would want if you became unable to make decisions for yourself. It broaches the subject of dying, and how you would like to be looked after at that time. It may seem difficult to think ahead in this way, but writing an advance care plan makes a clear record of your wishes so that these can be respected and, where possible, carried out by people caring for you in the future.
Are you caring for someone?
Do you look after someone who cannot manage without you because they are ill, frail or have a disability?
If so, you are a carer and Carers Bucks can help you.