Carers handbook contents
- Getting started
- Self Help and Community Support
- Equipment and technology
- Money Matters
- Carer’s Health & Wellbeing
- Carers in Paid Employment
- Talking with Professionals
- Assessments – Asking for Help
- Care Providers and Care Costs
- Planning Ahead
- Children and Young People with Disabilities
- Young Carers and Young Adult Carers
Carer’s Health & Wellbeing
Caring for family and friends is a natural part of all our lives, but we understand that the pressure of looking after someone else can be emotionally and physically demanding and often carer’s put the needs of the person they look after before their own.
Carers will often experience mental ill health as a result of caring due to the emotional impacts and attachment to their cared for, combined with exhaustion and having to do the everyday things such as keeping a house or working as well as the caring role.
The physical health of the carer is often neglected due to lack of time or exhaustion resulting in a weakened immune system and carer’s often feel ‘under the weather’.
Southend Carers focuses on helping you improve your own abilities to maintain good physical and mental health.
The GP is often a recommended first visit. It is a good idea to talk to your GP about how you are feeling, make sure they are aware that you are a carer and put this information on your records. They will be able help you find the right sort of support. This may be counselling but it could be another sort of therapy or treatment.
The emotional ups and downs of being a carer are ongoing. Southend Carers counselling service can give support through all the stresses associated with the caring role including;
- Stress and anxiety – can manifest in many ways, untreated it can lead to panic attacks or develop into depression. Carers should always talk to someone who is willing to listen, whether it is a neighbour or friend initially. Southend Carers provide free therapy options for carers and experienced support officers provide practical advice and support.
- Co-dependency – Many carers become enmeshed in the life of their cared for to such a degree that they lose a sense of identity and forget to look after themselves. This can, often through well-meaning intent, disable the carer from rehabilitation. Talking things through with friends, your GP, and counselling can help you explore other healthier options of looking after someone.
- Time management – Prioritising is a skill that can help with maintaining a sense of order and give the carer some structure. It can help to discuss this in counselling or carers groups to look at time saving ideas.
- Family dynamics – Becoming a carer will inevitably shift family dynamics in some way or another. Carers can often feel let down by lack of support. Carers groups are a way of obtaining input from others with a fresh perspective, and may help the carer to feel less isolated.
- Guilt – Many carers feel guilty at continuing to have fun or socialise if their cared for is ill. Free time to have a break and connect with the world external to the caring role is important. This can help maintain a sense of identity and lessen resentment building up. Could family or friends help out? Southend Carers can support you in many ways.
- Resentment – can occur if the carer takes on too much of the caring role, above and beyond what is expected of them. This can lead to martyrdom which is unhealthy, unfair on the cared for and ultimately spirals into a toxic relationship. This can be explored in counselling sessions or amongst other carers at groups where it may help to feel that you are not the only one going through this crisis
- Loss – Carers experience loss in a variety of ways often starting with the loss of the relationship that they previously had with the cared for. They may lose a sense of self-worth, physical fitness, their job, finances, their patience, and even lose contact with family and friends. Southend Carers can help you cope with the emotional implications of these losses and look at some practical solutions.
- Control – Carers can feel they have to battle with the Health Service, Social Care, local authorities or the GP just to get a diagnosis, let alone the process that follows. This may seem very daunting at first. Information is the key here try and obtain as much knowledge as you can through a variety of sources including Southend Carers, an advocacy service or advisory service.
- Acceptance – It can be a difficult journey to arrive at accepting the changed circumstances following the initial diagnosis, some carers reporting that it has taken them up to two years. Through talking therapy or with groups of carers this can be worked through at a suitable pace for the carer. If you can talk to family and friends throughout this process this may help the carer draw on inner strengths and reduce a sense of isolation.
Mental Health – Support
Emotional support is available from our Award Winning Carers Counselling Service.
We focus on what you can do for yourself and work to help you maintain and improve your abilities. Contact Southend Carers to access any of the following support;
- One to one contact – this can be a one off chat or one to one counselling with a trained counsellor where you will be listened to in confidence over a period of weeks.
- Telephone Support – offering emotional support to carers over the phone.
- Carers Information groups – guest speakers talk to carers on a variety of subjects ranging from physical and mental health conditions to carers concerns such as planning ahead for the unexpected.
- Connecting Carers – so no-one has to care alone –support groups enable you to meet other carers in a relaxed environment. You become part of a community of Carers who can support you through the ups and downs of looking after someone, the majority of our Carers who join these groups report less isolation.
- Signposting – At Southend Carers we signpost on to other organisations including continuing therapy options for carers when their counselling has come to an end. We can also signpost carers to other organisations so that carers can come in contact with other carers and have the chance to form friendships and therefore reduce isolation.
- Emotional Support for End of Life – These carers are contacted with an initial phone call to offer a listening ear to let them know that someone is willing to be with them at the end of the phone to listen to them on this difficult transition. Former carers (up to a year after death of their cared for) are also contacted.
We are in contact with other agencies/helplines and are assisted by organisations such as the Samaritans and Citizens Advice.
Samaritans – Out of Hours Listening Service
If you need to talk to someone during the period our service is closed contact the ‘Out of Hours Listening Service’ in confidence. Supported by the Samaritans who work closely with us Freephone 116 123 – it is open 24 hours a day all year round.
You can also access support by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens Advice Southend – We work closely with Citizens Advice allowing carers to gain faster access to informed advice.
Southend Borough Council Social Services Emergency Duty Team (out of hours) contact tel. no. 0345 606 1212 (The Out of Hours Service is provided by Essex County Council)
Physical Health – Support
The physical health of the carer is often neglected due to lack of time or exhaustion resulting in a weakened immune system and carers often feel ‘under the weather’. Carers can ask for an annual health check from their GP which can lower your risk in developing a serious illness.
Benefits of physical activity:
- Better mobility; joints, tendons and ligaments will be more flexible
- Helps carers to maintain a healthy weight by increasing your metabolism (the rate we burn calories)
- Improved general mental wellbeing and potential to improve feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Increased energy and endurance level enabling carers to manage their caring role with greater ease
The Southend Carers provide peer support groups, breaking isolation for carers.
Taster Sessions for activities such as; Bollywood dancing, Tai Chi and Hula Hooping are also organised from time to time by Southend Carers.
- Southend Carers family project encourages families who care for children with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors together.
- It provides an opportunity to meet other families, make new friendships and build support networks.
- Activities include; family picnics, cycling, trampolining, adventure parks, splash parks and the disability sports event at RAF Mildenhall.
- Southend Carers project organises a variety of groups for young carers aged 5 – 17.
- Activities include forest skills at Belfair’s woods.
Active Life 01702 567327
Active Southend email@example.com
Everyone Health 0300 005 0096
Sport for Confidence 0333 005 0095
When Sarah moved her parents into live with her, she didn’t realise she would find it difficult to lose her own personal space. Southend Carers Hub services helped; the small ‘Waves’ group discussing the emotional ups and downs of caring, one to one counselling and the carer’s peer support groups; ‘Walk and Talk’ and yoga, enabled Sarah to develop many coping mechanisms. She made a new friend who also cares for her parents. Together they can see the funny side to some of the challenges and once in a while they take themselves on a well-deserved treat. ‘Because they are worth it’.