Do you look after someone who really depends on you?
TIPS FOR CARERS
By Michael Hydon
These practical Tips share the things that I learnt as a Carer in looking after my wife, Julie, in the last three years of her life. They should be most helpful to carers of adults with some physical disabilities, but are generally applicable.
You will need to take strong and positive action to get things moving.
Only follow Tips that you consider will be entirely safe and appropriate to your circumstances:
1. As caring pressures will affect you, your doctor needs to be aware of your changing situation. Make sure that you are registered as a Carer with your GP; then, update your doctor regularly on how you are managing. Practical help can be accessed by a GP making referrals to:
[a] District Nurses to set up regular home visits by one of their team to see patients. Get them to check you too!
[b] An NHS Occupational Therapist who can offer support and loan special equipment to the person whom you care.
Doctors can also prescribe short breaks for you and be the route into other services that can help --- so do ask what is available.
2. It is crucial that you contact the Carers' Support Service covering the county in which you live, highlight your situation and find out what information / support is available for you. These bodies are independent of Social Services and also a local Carers' Group may be available for advice [eg at Haslemere] and mutual encouragement, so do enquire:
Surrey Action for Carers Surrey 0303-0401234
West Sussex Carers Support W. Sussex 0300-0288888
Hampshire Princess Royal Trust for Carers 01264-835246
Additionally, Carers UK has a guide called ‘Looking after someone’ and offers excellent advice through its website: https://www.carersuk.org
3. Raise your confidence level and also ability to talk to doctors by learning about the medical condition(s) involved. Get in touch with the appropriate national charity: eg British Heart Foundation, Mind, Stroke Association, Alzheimer's Society, National Osteoporosis Society, Age UK etc. All have contact 'phone lines / web-sites with highly relevant information --- and may have a local branch or group for support [or know of one].
4. Under the Care Act 2014, Local Authorities have a number of duties to carers. Ask your Carers Support Service about those and contact Adult Social Care within your County Council for your area. Request a 'Carers Needs Assessment' for yourself and additionally get an Assessment for the person for whom you care. Hopefully, that should identify overall needs and ways in which you could both receive some support.
+ Adult Social Care has Occupational Therapists who can provide free equipment and may even arrange for home adaptations
+ Equipment loaned without charge may include a raised toilet seat, a bedside commode, a hoist, wheelchair or even a hospital-style electrically operated bed
All of that will make life much easier. If the situation changes significantly, request further Assessments.
5. Identify and remove any trip-hazards --- and then fit some grab-rails. Any fall can be very dangerous particularly for an older person, with the potential to break bones and shorten independent living. This is a really important Tip.
6. Review if the person for whom you care might be eligible for any financial support [such as Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance or even a reduction in Council Tax] and apply for that. Do you qualify for any financial help, such as Carers Allowance and / or Universal Credit?
+ Ask your Carer Support Service and Citizens Advice what is available
+ Demonstrate in each application that specific eligibility criteria are satisfied
--- seek help if needed to make the best case possible
7. Find ways of reducing your work-load or making it easier.
+ Ask any other family members to give you specific help
+ Pay someone else to do regular weekly chores, such as cleaning / gardening
+ Learn how to use a laptop or tablet and then make it work for you
--- get shopping delivered to the home
+ If eligible, apply for Blue Badge free parking
+ Cook in bulk and freeze some for a reheated meal later; also, try home-delivered frozen meals [eg Wiltshire] or Meals on Wheels
+ Ask a trusted friend to sit with the person for whom you care
8. Have emergency arrangements in place, particularly if the person for whom you care is vulnerable
+ Install a secure Key Safe outside an external door so that emergency services [and relatives / trustworthy friends] can find a door key to enter the home --- plus
register the key safe code [eg with Careline if used]
+ Consider a Careline attachment to your 'phone system. The person who may need to call for help [eg after a severe fall] wears a neck pendant or wrist strap with a press button that can raise the alarm in a 24/7 call centre and so call out emergency services in your absence. Alternatively, use Oysta advanced technology for security.
+ Arrange Lasting Powers of Attorney for both Health and Finance
+ Carry a fully charged mobile 'phone so that you can be contacted and also make calls from anywhere
+ Get and carry with you a Carer's Emergency Card so that if you have an accident your nominated contacts and authorities can be alerted to arrange care
` + Inside the home, a two-way baby monitor and / or mobile ‘phone is useful if a bed- bound person needs to call for assistance
9. Do not delay in obtaining professional help from outside agencies offering specialist services [eg nursing and end-of-life care]. Get advice and a referral from your doctor.
10. Above all, protect / preserve your own health by ensuring that you get some regular respite, relaxation and sleep. Be aware of the damage you can do to yourself trying to deliver care on your own. Avoid 'beating yourself up' if things get tough. Remember to take your own medication. As a carer, you must look after yourself as No.1 so you are then better able to support the person who depends on you. It is all too easy to overdo things physically and emotionally --- and so get drained of energy. Seek help to allow you to get out.
11. Listen to friends and family. If the situation just becomes too difficult, 'let go' and give up part of your caring role. Involve your doctor and seek external help. Encourage the person for whom you care to 'let go' also and accept fully that others will be there for them instead of just you on your own. Also, something as simple as a cuddly toy can be a comfort.
12. As you are able, relax your role as a carer and simply enjoy time in company with the person whom you are cherishing. That is very precious for both now and in the future.
These Tips for Carers are part of the outreach support offered at Haslemere Methodist Church for carers. Do call in to the Open Door Coffee Lounge there and relax.
© 2018 Michael Hydon [Former Carer] firstname.lastname@example.org Tips updated 13 Aug. '19
Permission is hereby given under the Copyright for other organisations to distribute these Tips in their name provided that all preceding text is unchanged,
Offered by: Haslemere Methodist Church at Lion Green
Contact: Michael Hydon
The Haslemere Kitchen Project is also based at Haslemere Methodist Church and could well be of interest to local carers and those whom they support, as you would not then need to cook a Sunday lunch on two days a month! Instead, that is cooked by volunteers.
This is a community project to encourage people from all corners of the community to come together on the first and third Sunday of each month to enjoy simple, nutritious and delicious meals made from fresh ingredients donated by local supermarkets and butchers. The principal purpose of the project is to serve all and any who need it --- but anyone in the community will be welcome who will simply feel enriched by sharing a meal with their neighbours. A three course lunch is offered - this is free, but there is a basket for voluntary donations from those who are able, suggested £1 (min per diner!
There is level access to the building and a lift to the upstairs hall where the lunches are held.
‘Carers’ --- I recommend that you try out this new initiative ~ Michael
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