In the UK there could be as many as 8.8 million adult carers (1). There are lots of people who won’t necessarily think of themselves as a carer, but if someone relies on you for help and support then you are a carer.
Being a carer will be different for every person, you may care for a family member, friend or neighbour by picking up essential supplies, cleaning for them or helping them to maintain their independence at home with personal care.
All carers’ roles can be challenging, especially during the current coronavirus outbreak.
7 Things to Remember When Being a Carer
1. Remember to get help:
You don’t have to tackle everything alone. Try to share the load with family and friends by asking them for help with tasks they feel comfortable with. For example, someone could do the shopping every week, while a different person cleans.
Remember, there are professional carers available if you need it.
2. Manage your time:
There are 5 million people in the UK who are juggling caring responsibilities with work (1), if you are one of them it can be hard managing your workload with caring.
One way to help manage your time is to make sure you prioritise needs not wants. For example, the person you care for might want help reorganising their kitchen, but you also need to shop for them so prioritise the care tasks where possible.
3. Make the most of technology and online resources to help:
There are many resources out there that can save you time, for example rather than going to do a food shop try ordering it online instead. If the person you are caring for needs medication, why not get that delivered to them rather than collecting it from the pharmacy.
You could try Echo by LloydsPharmacy, our free prescription delivery service. At Echo, we will work with your NHS GP to take care of your repeat prescription.
Once you’re signed up, all you need to do is request the prescription using the app or website and our team of pharmacists will dispense your medication. We then deliver it to you for free. For most medication we can post if through your letterbox.
You can also manage medication for your family, friend or someone you are caring for including children under 16.
4. Don’t let yourself get burnt out:
Caring for someone, particularly if you’re trying to juggle a job and other commitments, can be tiring. Make sure you take time for yourself so you avoid getting burnt out, keep an eye out for the signs of exhaustion or stress such as lack of interest in social activities or hobbies you usually enjoy, changes in sleep patterns or overreacting to minor problems. If you’re feeling stressed, here’s our top three techniques for stress relief.
5. Separate chores and companion time:
When you’re caring for someone, you might be spending a lot of time around them. For example, if you help them with cleaning. But this isn’t the same as spending quality time with them, so try to make time to do that. Whether that’s sitting down for a cup of tea before you leave on a day or having a meal together once a week when we can. During the current situation, you could try phone calls or video chatting, else well as socially distanced catch ups in the garden if the weather allows.
6. Have a support network:
Having a good support network can not only help you care for your loved one, but maintaining friendships and connections is important for your own well-being.
You might also find it helpful to connect with people who can relate to your situation. There are online support networks that can help such as:
How to care for someone during the coronavirus outbreak:
According to Age UK (2), if you care for someone outside your household you can continue to do so. But, you may need to adapt how you usually do it.
For example, you should take some precautions to keep you both safe including regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If you usually shop for them, ask them to let you know what they need by phone or text or leaving their list on the doorstep. When you’ve collected the shopping, leave it on their front doorstep, knock on the door and step back to check they’re received it. If they need help putting it away, they could wait in another room while you put it away.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you should be self-isolating, and you shouldn’t carry on providing any care or support. Ask another family member, friend or trusted neighbour to help. Or, if those options aren’t available contact your local council or health care provider.
For more advice on being a carer for a family member, age uk have plenty of online resources available including financial support for carers, looking after yourself and how to juggle work and caring.