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Taking care of your own wellbeing when caring for someone

Taking care of your own wellbeing when caring for someone

As a carer it is so easy to put the needs of the person you are caring for before your own. But as the saying goes you can not pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take care of yourself as well you will be no good to yourself let alone others. You could experience depression or even burn out. Therefore it is very important to look after your own wellbeing when caring for someone. This includes taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing.

Caring for someone can be very stressful, which is why it is imperative that you take care of yourself and practise stress management. Yoga can be so helpful to help with sleep and stress. It is a form of exercise with stretching and poses and breathing that can clear the mind and strengthen the  body. This can be done online in zoom. Therefore you do not have to worry about travelling to a location, especially as this may not be possible with the demands of caring for someone.

Meditation is also great for relaxation and to help de stress. It is also excellent as it is known to help shift anxiety and depression.

Having good mental health and taking care of your own mental health is crucial when caring for someone.

Harrow Carers have a mental health support group, which is also online.

We also hold a  carers tea and coffee zoom group. Support groups are very useful as you meet people who are carers like you, and you can exchange tips and coping strategies. You can talk about your problems and share your experiences with others. It makes you realise that you are not on your own.

If you feel like you need to speak to someone privately and professionally or if your mental and emotional health is suffering, it is important to seek support earlier than later through talking therapy. It is a safe confidential space to get things off your chest and work to finding solutions with someone who is on your side  and who is there to listen. Harrow Carers offer free and affordable counselling sessions for unpaid carers.

Self care is often a term that gets thrown about. Its not just airy fairy. Self care is about you prioritising time for you. It is valuable time spent on taking care of yourself. It could be keeping up with your own dental and medical or hospital appointments. Ensuring that you are looking after your own health as well is important even though you are a carer. To take care of your own wellbeing have a good diet, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Rest when possible.

Do things you enjoy like reading and watching television to relax. Keep active.

Seek support from family members so you can take a break from the caring role sometimes.

Unpaid cares sometimes have paid carers who come in a few days a week, so they can have some time off. This can be helpful to go to visit the bank and do food shopping. Paying a carer may not always be feasible especially with rising cost of living at the moment. Therefore seeking support from a friend or family member can be beneficial once or twice a week so that you can have some time to yourself.

It may be difficult to balance taking care of yourself and  your wellbeing when caring for someone else because of the demanding nature of the caring role. But like stated above if this is not done it can lead to  mental health problems,  poor physical health and possibly burn out.

With support groups and exercise and self care it is possible to take care of your wellbeing when caring for someone, especially when this is made a priority. Harrow Carers is an organisation that is there to support unpaid carers. Please get in contact with us to support your care needs as a carer.

By Natalie Reuben 

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

The Dilemma for Carers: Work or Stay at home

The Dilemma for Carers: Work or Stay at home

In recent weeks the political system has endured a whirlwind of changes as Rishi Sunak becomes the latest prime minster to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Along with a new prime minster, Steve Barclay has been newly appointed as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. As such, questions are raised as to what the new government will do to support carers, at a time where they are facing huge pressures.

Currently, if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week you are entitled to a Carer’s Allowance of £69.70. However, to many this is not enough to cover the burdening economic pressures in terms of bills and increasing prices. On the other hand, the carer’s allowance could be lost if carers take on work, placing carers in a difficult position.

If carers do take on work, they may have to reduce their work hours to manage their additional caring responsibilities. As a consequence, carers will receive a reduced income, during a time of economic instability.

The dilemma for carers, to work or to stay at home and rely upon an allowance is raised by Ed Davey, party leader of the Liberal Democrats. Ed Davey was a carer himself, and his experiences has helped shape his politics and perspectives. He argues that unpaid carers were left out of the Conservatives’ white paper proposals for social care, the Autumn 2022 Covid vaccine booster programme, and now out of Rishi Sunak’s cost-of-living package. As Carer’s Allowance remains the lowest benefit of its kind, Ed Davey urges an increase in payment by £1000 a year to support carers in tackling the increased petrol prices, energy bills and food prices.

Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has also had experience as a carer. At the age of 10 years old Angela became the main carer for her mum, who suffers from mental health issues. She advocates for an updated National Strategy for Carers to ensure that unpaid carers get the help and support they need. This would include raising Carer’s Allowance for full-time unpaid carers in line with Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Indeed, there are valuable projects out there which support unpaid carers into work, reducing the reliance upon the Carer’s Allowance. For instance, ‘Working for Carers’ supports unpaid carers to move closer to employment. The project has created a series of factsheets for carers, including ‘Carers’ rights at work’ and ‘Flexible working’.

There has also been an introduction of one week of additional unpaid leave for carers. Millions of people across the UK who are currently providing unpaid care to dependant family members or friends will be entitled to unpaid leave under new laws backed by the government. This law will enable unpaid carers to enjoy a better balance of working and undergoing their caring responsibilities, helping reduce the dilemma of whether to work or stay at home.

By Tabitha DesmondWorking for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. 

 

Planning ahead: what you need to know about end-of-life care

Planning ahead: what you need to know about end-of-life care

Understandably it can be daunting to make plans for end-of-life care. However, planning ahead can help reassure you and the person you are caring for that their wishes will be followed. It helps you and the person you care for feel more in control and creates a sense of comfort when looking towards the future. Additionally, it will benefit you and your wider family, helping avoid a lot of anxiety and potential family disagreement later on.

Here is some practical information that can be valuable when thinking about end-of-life care:

Mental Capacity

It is critical to recognise when the individual you care for may lack decision-making capacity.

Mental capacity is about being able to make your own decisions and is decision and time specific.

The person you care for will will lack mental capacity to make a decision at a particular time if they have an “impairment or disturbance of the mind or brain” for example, they have dementia or a stroke.

It is important to understand that just because someone intends to make a decision with which you disagree with or believe is unwise, it does not mean they are unable to make a decision.

Questions to ask

Consider the following points while discussing future planning with the person you are caring for:

– Where do they want to be cared for in the future?

– Who do they want to spend time within the future?

– Would they like to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf if they lack the mental capacity to do so?

– Do they have any requests when it comes to planning their funeral? E.g., whether they want a religious service or not

– Are there any additional practical considerations they should bear in mind? E.g., pet care, handling of bank accounts

Advance Statement

In the event that the person you care for becomes ill and requires care and treatment, an advance statement allows them to record their wishes, beliefs, and values such as where they wish to be cared for. Anyone making a decision on behalf of the individual must consider this statement.

The statement does not need to be signed, but a signature would be preferable to link the person to the words written.

Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT)

Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) is a written statement of wishes the person you care for has to refuse a particular treatment in a particular situation. This can be valuable in making sure that everyone knows what treatments are not wanted if the person becomes unable to communicate this.

It does not cost anything to produce a ADRT, and a solicitor is not required.

Resources

– Please see the NHS End of life Care guide for more detailed information on planning for end-of-life care.

– Dying Matters is a charity that aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. They provide of useful resources from detailed leaflets to podcasts.

My future wishes focuses on advance planning for people living with dementia.

By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. 

Supporting carers into work

Supporting carers into work

If services supported carers into work, this could generate £1 billion in taxes. Currently, the programme Working for Carers is supporting carers in London to move towards employment. At the end of June 2022,  1,157 carers and former carers had registered with the project.  So far, 61% of those registered with the project have accessed training, 49% have been supported to job-search, 21% have moved into employment, and 14% have accessed volunteering opportunities. This programme included:

– One-to-one meetings with a dedicated Employment Personal Advisor

– Group activities and training workshops

– Help with job searching

– Support with CVs, job applications and interview techniques

However, Working for Carers will end in June 2023 and there is nothing replacing it so far. Consequently, there is a need for more programmes like Working for Carers to emerge and for employers to support carers into work. Through supporting carers to successfully combine work and caring duties, more carers can be encouraged to go into and stay in employment.

There are often small and inexpensive things employers can do to help ease carer employees’ concerns:

– Allowing carers to leave their mobile phones on in meetings in case of emergencies relating to the individual(s) they are caring for

– Giving caregivers time and access to a phone so they may check in on the person for whom they care while working.

Flexible working can be a good way to help carers juggle their employment with their caring role, flexible working policies can include:

– Flexible start and finish times

– Home working

– Staggered hours

– Flexible holidays

After working for their employer for 26 weeks or more, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working.

Creating a staff carer network, an internal network within your workplace that is set up to support the employees who are also carers, can provide carers with valuable peer support. This may involve:

– A virtual network on your internal network platform

– A group chat on an online communication platform such as teams

Importantly, employers can simply ask what carer employees need to feel supported in their role; engaging in an open discussion may improve understandings and enable long-term solutions to be developed.

Supporting carers in the workplace is beneficial both to the carer and the employer, employers can benefit from:

– Improved productivity – employees who have policies in place to support carers are more likely observe enhanced service delivery and increased productivity

– Reduced turnover – balancing care with work can be burdensome, if employees receive the correct support from employers, they are likely to commit to their job

By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. 

Time Management for Carers

Time Management for Carers

On average research suggests that unpaid carers provide approximately 26 hours of care a week, the equivalent of three full working days. Whereas some carers provide 24-hour care or may be balancing full time employment with their caring duties. Carers may find there are not enough hours in the day, and many may feel socially isolated, or may have to reduce their working hours in order to devote their time to the vulnerable individual they support.

It is critical that caregivers can manage their time effectively in order to reduce stress and enhance their own wellbeing. Here are some useful steps to support carers with their time management, which can help reduce the burden.

Balancing out tasks

As carers you may find you are constantly juggling different responsibilities, to find the right balance it is important to:

– Prioritize your tasks

– Schedule when to work on what

– Put everything in a To-Do List

By being organised and aware of the tasks you have to complete, you can allocate yourself sufficient time to complete the tasks, lightening the load.

Taking time for yourself

It is important to remember that taking time to recharge is productive too. As carers there can be a lot to cope with, finding some time for yourself can help increase happiness and reduce stress levels.

Doing something to relax such as going on a nice walk, watching an episode of your favourite TV show, or running a warm bath can be a great way to soothe your mind.

Flexible working

If you are in employment flexible working could help you to balance your work and caring responsibilities. If you have been with your employers for 6 months then you have the right to request flexible working. This could provide more flexible working hours, job sharing or teleworking which may be more suitable to your needs.

Asking for support

Caring for someone can be a lot to handle, remembering it is ok to reach out for help is important. Reach out to your friends and family and see if they can help, by gaining their support you will have more time available to balance out your responsibilities and to focus on yourself.

We at Harrow Carers can offer a dedicated support network to assist you when caring gets challenging and you are unable to find time for yourself. We try to minimise the burden and improve the quality of your life via guidance and support.

By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.