There are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers – looking after a relative or friend with a disability, mental or physical illness, or who needs extra support as they get older.
While caring can be extremely rewarding, many carers can find it impacts on their own life, whether on their own health or financial situation, or their relationships.
At Care UK we are passionate about supporting residents’ family members, as well as family carers in the community, and we do this in a number of ways.
Join an advice session
Most of our homes offer regular free information sessions on topics such as understanding dementia, funding longer term care or falls prevention. Find your local Care UK care home and look on their news and events page to see what’s on. Some homes run regular dementia and carers cafés too. If your loved one is living with dementia, you can both pop along to get any advice you need, have a change of scene and meet likeminded people.
A wealth of free expertise
Care UK produces a range of free guides for family carers that offer tips and advice on different aspects of caring for your loved one. There’s everything from new ideas for activities, to how to help your loved one to eat and drink well in older age. There’s even tips on how to get out and about more, with dementia-friendly ideas for outings.
A helping hand for you
Our latest guide, called ‘A helping hand’ is designed to support you, as a carer, through every step of the care journey.
It includes chapters on looking after yourself and options for taking a break. If you think a care home may be the best option for your loved one’s future care, the guide helps with selecting the right home, highlighting the benefits you may be entitled to, and how to prepare your loved one for the move.
Tips to ease the pressure
Here are a few tips from the guide.
- Make time for you: Aim to do one thing for yourself each week, whether it’s meeting a friend or having a meal out with your partner. Try to eat healthily, get some exercise and ensure you have enough sleep.
- Review your situation regularly: Take a step back once a month or so to consider how you’re coping. Don’t wait for things to get too much before you ask for help.
- Talk to likeminded people: It’s easy to feel isolated in your caring role. Charities like the Alzheimer’s Society and Carers UK have online forums or helplines that you can call for more information or just to speak to someone who understands.
- Know your rights: Are you getting all the benefits or credits you’re entitled to as a carer? Your local social services department or Citizens’ Advice will be able to help.
- Get the support you need: Your friends and relatives want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend to pick up some shopping for you, or sit with your loved one while you take a break. What local carers’ groups are there? Have you registered as a carer with your GP so they are aware of the extra pressure you’re under?