Self Help and Community Support

Family, Community and Practical Help

Communicating well, delegating and sharing care responsibilities are key skills to building your own support network.

Family and friends may give support, either regularly or occasionally, if they know how they could help out. It’s important, where possible to match the request for help, to the person, rather than ask someone to do something which is way out of their ‘comfort zone’.

When family and friends live some distance away, they still might be able to help by looking up information for you, making appointments or shopping online for example.

Sometimes the support you need is having someone to listen to you. A carer can easily become isolated so it is important to;

  1. Accept help. Share the care responsibilities or practical tasks when you can.
  2. Give clear details of the tasks you need help with.
  3. Give choices of ways and times to help.
  4. Be encouraging not judgemental.
  5. Thank them for their support.

Charities and Community Groups

Linking up with other carers is great way to get information and recommendations from people in the same position as you and it’s an opportunity to make new friends. Southend Carers run peer support groups and health and wellbeing groups.

Southend Carers Groups and Events

Community centres, libraries, churches and community hubs are a good place to look for information on social groups, lunch clubs and local support. These might be groups for you as the carer or for the person you care for.  It is a good idea to contact the group by telephone or email first to check the latest information.

Community information – useful websites;

SAVS Community Directory

Livewell Southend

Southend Council Asset Map and Community Hubs

Age Concern Southend this independent local charity offers wheelchair hire, a befriending service for people aged over 60, runs a number of local community groups including the 50+ club and the Haven Community Hub.

South Essex Advocacy Information on local support 

South Essex Advocacy Service also run the Hello Life! project which helps prevent isolation for people aged 60 or over contact Lisa Bartlett on 07436 283701, or 01702 340566. 

South Essex Advocacy Information on local support

South Essex Advocacy Service also run the Hello Life!’ project which helps prevent isolation for people aged 60 or over.

Southend Libraries Home Library Service –  Libraries offer a FREE delivery service for anyone who cannot access their local library. If you or someone you know can’t get to the library due to permanent or temporary disability, illness, frailty or caring responsibilities then a friendly team of Home Library Service Volunteers can deliver books and audio books to your home on a regular basis free of charge.

Condition specific support

Charities and organisations which specialise in giving advice and support for specifc health conditions are a good point of contact.  Carers Trust have produced a range of leaflets and online support regarding caring for specific conditions 

It can bhelpful to contact both national charities and local organisations. Many run groups suitable for the person you care for and for carers. Some examples are; 

Breathe Easy Southend – British Lung Foundation support group

Dementia Community Support Team – supporting families living with all types of dementia

Little Heroes ASD support group – for families with a child who is on the autistic spectrum

SAFE a support group for individuals and families affected by Asperger Syndrome (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) in Essex, including the unitaries of Southend and Thurrock. 

Rainbow Trust supporting families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness 

SEET1 Diabetes Family Group – supporting families who have a child with Type 1 Diabetes

Southend in Sight – the community division of Southend Blind Welfare Organisation

Southend Mencap serving the interests and needs of children and adults with learning disabilities, as well as those of their parents and carers, in the south east of Essex. 

Take Heart Southend – supporting people with heart problems

Trust Links which includes REACH recovery college – supporting people living with mental health conditions and unpaid carers.

Headway Essex supporting people with an acquired brain injury and their families.  


Southend Hospital Care Cars – Volunteer drivers to hospital appointments – call 01702 385125

Practical help

TrustMark  is  a ‘not for profit’ social enterprise  endorsed by the government.  It helps  consumers,  when they need work done in and around the home, to find traders  in complete confidence that the work will be of a high quality, protected and at the agreed costs.

Finding a trusted trader

Just the Job is a Southend based company specialising in domestic help including; cleaning, gardening, dog walking and looking after pets, homes and gardens while the owners are away.

Just the Job

Many care companies can help with housework, shopping and meal preparation too.

More advice on finding a trader you can trust can be found on the citizens advice website;

Citizens Advice – FInd a Trader


Online shopping, home delivery and cooked meals 

Glenwood Cafe in Westcliff-on-Sea offer a home delivery service for lunchtime meal. All meals are prepared and cooked on the day and are delivered on a plate ready to eat 

No set menus – pick your own meal for each day, week or month. 

Deliveries are 7 days a week including bank holidays. Contact Telephone01702 341558 

Online shopping and home delivery can overcome some difficulties associated with shoppinsuch as transportation, time commitment and being unable to leave the person you care for. 

Some home delivery services are accessible to people unable to use the internet as the order can be telephoned through to the store. 

Some home delivery services will if required unpack the shopping and put it away for you. for example; Oakhouse foods and Wiltshire Farm Foods which provide frozen ready meals. 

https:/  local branch 01708 688 644 

https:/ local branch 01268 288887  frozen ready meals 

Click and Collect also available telephone 01702 470037   

    Shopping in the store

    A shopping trip can be an opportunity to get out and interact with others and to make your own selection of goods.   Many of the larger supermarkets can provide assistance with shopping by providing the following;

    • disabled parking bays
    • a member of staff to go round the shop with you,
    • help with packing
    • carrying the shopping to a car or call for a taxi,
    • motorised shopping carts,
    • trolleys suitable for wheelchair users
    • trolleys with padding and straps suitable for disabled children (age limits apply)
    • wide aisle checkouts
    • induction loops at kiosks
    • seating available at the checkout

    Combination of services

    Some stores offer a combination of online shopping and home delivery either you shop in the store and they deliver the goods at an agreed time slot or you shop online staff pick and pack the items and you collect them from the store at an agreed time slot.

    GP services and Community Health Teams

    Significant Care is a free tool designed to help carers spot the early signs of deterioration in the health of those they care for and to make good decisions about what to do to help. The signs to notice are specifically related to their skin, toilet habits, mobility and levels of confusion. The aim of this tool, launched in April 2020, is to help avoid problems like infections and falls which could require hospitalization.   

    The tool includes a guide on how to call for medical or nursing assistance available as a PDF download. 

    A Significant care booklet is available at the following link; 

    There is a webinar explaining how to use the Significant Care toolkit available on Youtube; 

    Services at your GP practice

    • A Carer Register is held by each GP surgery, ask for your details to be put on the register to help your GP give you the most appropriate care.
    • An annual carers health check can help lower your risk in developing a serious illness.
    • Free flu vaccination is available in the run up to winter if you are the main carer for an elderly, disabled or vulnerable person who may be put at risk if you fall ill.
    • More flexibility in making appointments because of caring responsibilities.
    • GP Carer Champion Many GP practices are working towards appointing a member of their medical practicestaff to coordinate the identification and support of carers within the practice.

    GP online services

    GP online services can give a carer the ability to book and cancel appointments and order repeat prescriptions at a time convenient to them rather than trying to fit everything into the hours when the surgery is open.

    If a carer is given full access to the online records of the person they care for they can also see medical information such as test results and details of what has been discussed at appointments. It also gives the ability to check the personal information the surgery holds are correct.  This can be particularly helpful to carers caring from a distance.

    A person can ask their GP to give access to one or more trusted people.  Further information on how to give someone authority to access the records can be found on the NHS England website Giving another person access to your GP online services.

    Hospital outpatient transport

    The East of England Ambulance Service provides non-emergency patient transport services for patients attending hospitals and treatment centres for NHS-funded treatment.

    If your GP makes a referral to an NHS outpatient department and the patient is unable to travel by public or private transport for medical reasons, your GP can initiate the first request for the non emergency patient transport service.  The patient can book the transport for any follow-up visits to the treatment centre or hospital.  Bookings must be made at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment.  The booking number is 0300 0134 997 (lines are open Monday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm).

    Before a booking is made you will be asked some short questions to see if you are eligible to use the service. If you are, transport will be arranged. Please do not book less than 48 hours in advance of your appointment.

    Community Health Services

    Your GP can make referrals to community health teams which offer invaluable support to the carer and can prevent a hospital admission.

    The services available include;

    • Single Point of Referral (SPOR); formal care visits put in place whilst the cared for person is receiving treatment for a sudden deterioration in health e.g. treatment for an infection.
    • SWIFT team – medically trained team able to prescribe and administer drugs and carry out home visits to treat a sudden deterioration in a known health condition.
    • Oxygen team – specialist nurses providing home visits to those with a respiratory health condition.
    • First Response mental health team a multi-professional community mental health team, who provide specialist and initial mental health assessment and treatment for up to 6 months.
    • Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team mental health professionals offering treatment and interventions in your home an alternative to hospital admission to promote recovery.
    • Complex Care Coordinators complete home visits to assess and manage the care of chronic conditions.
    • Specialist help for specific conditions such as the Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) and the Continence Advisory Service. The continence team can provide advice and some products available on the NHS. Referral to this team who are able to provide home visits is through a health professional.   The charity Bladder and Bowel UK also have an advice helpline and products available for purchase.
    • Social Prescribing. Social prescribing is open to patients aged 18+ who present to their GP with issues that have a non – clinical underlying cause. Patients may have a social need, on-going health conditions, regularly attend their GP surgery or are at risk of unplanned admission.
    • Wheelchair service if a wheelchair is required for mobility inside the home.
    • Occupational Therapy Assessments to provide disability aids; equipment and home adaptations.
    • Everyone Health Southend this service helps with every aspect of health, fitness and wellbeing. It is free for people aged 16 and above who live or work in Southend or are registered with a Southend GP practice. It includes support to lose weight, eat more healthily and get active. Individuals can refer themselves or healthcare professionals such as GP’s and pharmacists can refer patients. More information can be found on the website Everyone Health contact 0333 005 0095 email:
    • Falls Prevention Staying Steady programme is being managed by Everyone Health and referrals should be made to Clinical contact centre: 0333 005 0095

    Pharmacy services

    Your local pharmacist can give medication advice which can ease stress and anxiety for the carer and often be of great practical help.  The services available are;

    • Advice to ensure medication is taken correctly, so it works most effectively.
    • If there is a problem with taking medicines the pharmacist may be able to suggest a form of the medicine that’s more acceptable e.g. a soluble or liquid form instead of tablets. Some painkillers can be prescribed as a long-acting patch that you stick on the skin. Check with a pharmacist before you crush tablets or open capsules and mix the powder with food or drink. It’s not always safe to do this.
    • Aids to help with taking medication at the right time – You can ask your pharmacist to provide the medication in blister packs or dosette boxes. These are plastic boxes with small compartments that clearly show which pills need to be taken at what time of day.
    • Repeat prescriptions – Most pharmacies offer a repeat prescription service; the GP surgery send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy or the pharmacist requests the repeat prescription for you.
    • Some pharmacists also offer home delivery services.
    • Medicines review – If you or the person you care for is taking more than one medicine and has a long-term health condition, they can get a free medicines use review with their pharmacist. This is a chance to talk to the pharmacist in confidence about any problems with the medication.

    Help with health costs

    Some people are eligible for free prescriptions, help with the cost of dental treatment, eye tests and other NHS services.  The link below can help you check whether you are eligible for help with NHS costs


    If you need frequent prescriptions but do not qualify to get them free of charge, you can buy a prepayment certificate which will save you money.  Prescription Pre- Payment Certificate Information

    More information including help with the cost of eye and dental treatment can be found on the website. NHS website – Help with health costs

    Information on support with the cost of travel to medical appointments is available from the NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)

    Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme

    Learning IT Skills including Online Safety

    Using a computer, tablet or smart phone can help with so many everyday tasks and help reduce isolation. IT skills can make it possible to shop online and arrange home delivery, contact your GP or local authority by email rather than trying a busy telephone line.  Particularly helpful to carers, at times when you are unable to leave home, the internet can help reduce isolation; take part in groups or learn a new skill, get up to date information and keep in touch with family and friends. 

    Online courses can be found at the following link 

    Courses include; 

    • basic skills using a keyboard, mouse and touchscreen,  
    • skills to break isolation using email, video calling, socialising online  
    • practical IT skills, how to do online banking and budgeting, shopping online, using the NHS website and GP online services.  
    • Important guidance and teaching on how to keep safe online  

    Vision2learn and the government site Skills Toolkit also provide a variety of online courses. 

    Local community colleges, libraries and community hubs often run short courses to help people gain confidence; developing their online skills and learning important safety guidelines. 

    The Folk Like Us project, run by Turning Tides at Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS), helps older people who are isolated gain confidence using a tablet, laptop or smartphone offering both group and one to one support.   Contact 01702 356070 

    Age UK have produced guidance on keeping safe online and detecting scams 

    The link below is a training video on online safety developed by Lloyds bank; 

    The following organisations provide free training to parents and carers on keeping children safe online 

    The UK Safer Internet Centre has an extensive library of resources including social media guides and children’s Digiduck story books to help parents and teachers educate children aged 3 -7 about online safety. 

    The NSPCC also provide valuable advice and guidance to schools, parents and carers and run online safety training; 

    Preventing Cold Calls and Detecting Scams 

    To reduce or prevent cold calls and scams on your telephone you can register on the Telephone Preference service call 0345 070 0707  or online at 

    BT have a Call-Protect service for details contact 0800 661 441—-how-to—–guide and if your telephone service is provided by Sky you can register on their service Sky-Talk Shield which will enable you to screen the call before you agree to take it. 

    More detailed information on stopping cold calls, emails, junk mail and detecting scams see the article on the Money Saving Expert website;  

    Prctical advice and help is available from the Citizens Advice Scams Helpline contact 0300 330 3003; 

    Advice available includes 

    • Checking if something is a scam,  
    • Reporting a scam 
    • Help if you have been scammed including advice about getting your money back and getting emotional support if you’ve been scammed 

    To report a scam to the police contact;  

    Police service Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 

    Safe from Abuse and Neglect

    The Care Act gives each local authority responsibilities to safeguard adults this means, to protect a person’s right, to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

    Safeguarding is for people who have care and support needs that may make them more vulnerable to abuse or neglect.  This includes adults living with dementia, learning disability, mental ill-health or substance abuse.

    Safeguarding includes protecting from all types of abuse; financial, emotional and physical and protecting from neglect including self-neglect.

    Reporting concerns

    You can report your safeguarding concerns in a number of different ways;

    • Contact Southend Borough Council

    Adult services Access team 01702 215008 / out of hours emergency 0345 606 1212 ; Children services 01702 215007 / out of hours emergency 0845 606 1212

    Local Authority Responsibility

     The Care Act 2014 requires that each Local Authority must:

    • Set up a Safeguarding Adults Board including representatives from the local authority, NHS and police, which will develop, share and implement a joint safeguarding strategy.
    • Arrange, where appropriate, for an independent advocate to represent and support an adult who is the subject of a safeguarding enquiry.
    • Work with partners in the police and health service, in order to protect adults who are experiencing or at risk of, abuse or neglect.
    • Make enquiries, or ensure others do so, if it believes an adult is experiencing or is at risk of, abuse or neglect. An enquiry should establish whether any action needs to be taken to stop abuse or neglect, and if so, by whom.

    Keeping safe out and about

    Technology such as mobile phones and GPS trackers can help to support independence whilst giving both carer and the person they care for peace of mind.  The Keep Safe scheme and the Herbert Protocol are two schemes developed to support vulnerable adults when they are out and about.

    Keep Safe Scheme

    The Keep Safe scheme is run by the organisation SHIELDS which is a charity formed of people who have learning disabilities.  SHIELDS  aim is to represent people with learning disabilities living in Southend, making sure they have a voice about the services they receive. The letters ‘SHIELDS’ stands for Supporting, Helping, Informing Everyone with Learning Disabilities in Southend.

    The Keep Safe Scheme is designed to help people with disabilities that live, work, or socialise in Southend, feel safe when they are out in the town. It is for any disabled person or person with Asperger’s over the age of 16.

    Members of the Keep Safe Scheme carry a key ring and a wallet card which holds their own details, plus the name and phone number of a trusted person on it. This person can be a family member, a friend, a care worker or anyone that can help if something goes wrong.

    Shops and other businesses involved in the scheme will display the ‘Keep Safe’ sticker in their window, and they will help to call the trusted person, the police, or an ambulance if necessary.

    For more information and to join the scheme contact the Keep Safe Team Telephone 01702 534544

    Herbert Protocol

    The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme designed to help protect a person living with dementia should they ever go missing. The protocol is being introduced in Essex by Essex Police, in partnership with other agencies, including Alzheimer’s Society, Essex Search and Rescue, Essex County Council and the unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend.

    The scheme encourages carers to complete a form compiled of useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person with dementia going missing. The form includes information on medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located or attended, a photograph, friends, daily routine etc. The form should be kept safe but in a place where it can be easily found if the person it refers to goes missing. It would be helpful if you make several copies, which can be kept safe by care workers, neighbours or relatives.

    The police will only ever ask for the form if the person is reported missing it will then reduce the time taken in gathering the relevant information, and aid the police in finding the missing person.

    Case study

    When her Mum fell and broke her arm Janet visited everyday doing housework and other chores but soon Janet’s high blood pressure started to flare up. Janet found the local pharmacist could order the repeat prescriptions, put the tablets into dosette boxes and deliver them each week to her Mum. A friend recommended someone who did the ironing for six weeks. Janet’s cousins visited her Mum each day while Janet took a few days off and neighbours took her Mum out with them to a local social club which has now become a weekly event. Janet feeling less exhausted, is enjoying ‘quality’ time with her Mum again.

    Case study

    Joan’s husband is living with dementia.  One morning her husband was unwell and she did not have the strength to help him out of the chair and to the bathroom.  The carer was advised to contact her GP and ask for a SPOR referral. 

    It was confirmed that Joan’s husband had an infection.  Carers visited to help with care needs while the infection was treated and he recovered his strength again.

    Case study

    Dawn was concerned that her brother with additional needs had been befriended by two people who were persuading him to take money out of his account to give to them. Southend Carers helped Dawn report suspected financial abuse. The social care team investigated and helped to resolve the immediate dangers.  Dawn’s brother moved into sheltered accommodation. Dawn became an attorney for her brother’s financial affairs.