I worry about stuff.
I worry if little E is going to be ok on her first day at school. If the chicken has been cooked properly. If people will judge me by the fact that I rarely hoover under or behind things. If I will have enough money to go on holiday. I worry that too many children in the world suffer abuse. If I am a good enough friend. If the cake is too dry. If the baby penguin will find its dad and survive the winter. If the fridge will hold out for just a bit longer. If my mum is ok.
We all worry about stuff. Some of it’s about the things we can’t control, some of it doesn’t matter to anyone but you and you might want to give yourself a stern talking to, but what happens when you not only have to worry about your stuff, but you have to worry about someone else’s too? Someone you care about. What happens when it’s really important stuff like giving medication, making sure they have enough food in the house, organising hospital and doctor appointments, helping them get out and about, and into bed; bathing, benefits, finances and frustrations? Convincing them it’s ok. They are ok. What happens when you have a job and you don’t know how you can fit their stuff into your own without yours falling apart?
3 in 5 of us will become a carer at some point in our lives. Birth, death, a diagnosis, accident, or old age – there are many reasons why we might end up looking after someone. We will be doing what anybody would do in that situation. Right? We will be caring for someone.
Here in the UK, 6,000 people begin that journey every day. This Carers Week let’s give a thought to them. Let’s think about the stuff they will have worry about, deal with, have to learn, fight, find the time for. Who worries about them?
Here at Carer Support Wiltshire we provide support, information and advice to carers in Wiltshire. There are organisations like us all around the UK working to help build carer friendly communities where everyone feels supported to look after their family and friends and are recognised as individuals with needs of their own.
If you know someone who is looking after a loved one, check they are ok. Tell them, if they don’t already know that there is support out there.
If you live in Wiltshire and would like more information on the support available call 0800 181 4118.
You can find out more about Carers Week here: http://www.carersweek.org/
Jules Stanbridge, Communications Manager, Carer Support Wiltshire
Are you new to caring – or perhaps looking down the line a little and thinking that’s coming my way?
First of all remember, caring is something that is to be celebrated, enjoyed and respected. Too often we can focus on the pressures and hear only the bad news stories – that brings us all down and encourages a culture of ‘avoidance’. So, let’s turn the conversation on its head and together build a culture that celebrates and values caring.
Start the talking:
With yourself, with your closest family, with the people you will help care for, your wider family, and neighbours and friends.
It’s never easy – people don’t want to ‘wash their linen’ in public; people feel their pride is at stake; they don’t want to be disempowered. But if early on people learn to share small tasks, (mowing the lawn, doing shopping, putting out the bins), then the giving and accepting of care is just more natural and not unusual.
Putting the house in order
Nobody likes forward planning – not even the lawyers among us – but it is really important to lead from the front. You can set up financial and health and well-being plans for yourself if you take the lead and do it for yourself then some of the harder conversations with the people who may need care in future become easier. Check out www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/overview.
So we need to get our heads around the assumption that people have capacity, including to make unwise decisions. Though some people may need more help than others in understanding the consequences of that. And this is where those difficult conversations bear fruit because you know what mum would want in this situation.
Put yourself first
Remember carers give – that’s what they do, but you must be prepared to put yourself first and take care of your own health, and wellbeing – it’s a fundamental rule. First stop tell your GP that you are a carer – it should open the doors to more personalised care for you. Second stop put your time and energy into maintaining relationships and interests outside your caring role. No ifs and buts – it’s vital.
Check out the help
There’s help out there – go online and you’ll find tons. A useful starting point is your local carers’ centre where you can find out more about your rights to benefits, health and care services, tax breaks as well as practical support such as training, support and breaks. They’ll be able to tell you more about the rapidly growing number of practical aids that can help you care too. Find out how we can help here.
Know the signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation
You are on the front line of protection against abuse and neglect, as well as financial exploitation of loved ones. Be knowledgeable about the signs of abuse and exploitation, and know what to do if you are worried.
Working and caring?
You have rights in the workplace – does your employer know that you are caring and working – tell them so they can cut you some slack when you need it.
Consider personal care agreements.
Caring often requires a financial sacrifice, especially if work must be cut back or given up. If your loved one wants to provide compensation, you’ll have to be prepared to check out tax questions and consider the potential for family conflict. This is where those early conversations come into their own and it’s worth getting an agreement to spell out terms and expectations.
Catharine Hurford, Chief Executive, Carer Support Wiltshire