Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience but carers often find it challenging to take care of their own wellbeing whilst caring. Its impact on all aspects of life from relationships and health to finances and work should not be underestimated. Caring without the right information and support can be tough.
This Carers Week, we’re coming together to help carers get connected. There are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers. They will be looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness, or who needs extra help as they grow older.
Everyone has a part to play in connecting carers and helping them to get the support they need to care without putting off their own health needs or losing important relationships with others.
This could include an employer creating carer-friendly policies by listening to the experiences of their workforce, a GP practice offering an annual health check or alternative appointment times to carers struggling to attend due to their caring responsibilities or a leisure centre offering special deals for carers.
Supporting carers to get connected in their communities
Connected to advice and information
Caring can be extremely complicated, whether you’re grappling with the benefits system or considering how to pay for care. There are lots of extra costs that can come with caring and giving up work or choosing to reduce working hours can lead to money worries. The most important thing you can do is recognise that you are a carer and connect with support services available. It’s important to find out about the different ways you can get advice and support with caring including finding out what financial support is available. There are many places that can offer information to carers, including your local carers’ organisation, local council or local voluntary sector organisations.
Connected to services
It’s natural to think of ourselves as family or friends rather than as carers. Looking after someone can be hard work though and carers often miss out on support services available. Getting a carer’s assessment which looks at what support you might need as a carer is a great start. From arranging a break from caring, getting the right equipment to care safely or getting support with improving your own well-being, services can connect carers to a range of support.
Connected to friends and family
Lack of time, and understanding from others, can cause loneliness and isolation amongst carers. The difficulty of taking time away from our caring role also adds to these feelings. Greater understanding from friends, colleagues, and the public, as well as more opportunities for breaks and social activities are all needed to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Connected to others, including carers
Sometimes a few words from someone who understands your situation can be a lifeline. Being a carer can be difficult and isolating, so speaking to someone who knows what you are going through can make a big difference. Carers Week is an opportunity for you to get connected to others, including fellow carers, in your community and build new friendships.
Connected to technology
There’s a whole world of technology that could help make your home safer and your life as a carer easier. While technology can never replace being with others, simple devices and Apps can help people connect on a day to day basis, help someone live independently for longer and give you peace of mind when you can’t be around. Technology can also help carers connect with each other through online forums providing emotional support.