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The need to care for carers

“A carer is anyone, including children and adults who look after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid” – NHS England

Carers come from all walks of life and often juggle their caring responsibilities with a wide range of commitments. They can also care for a broad scope of people with physical and/or
emotional issues.

According to the NHS website carers often struggle to separate their caring role from their relationship with the person. It can take up to two years to acknowledge this transition. Other people, particularly young carers, keep their role secret for many reasons including fear of splitting up the family, guilt or pride to name but a few!

It is evident that the caring role has many aspects, and although it can be extremely rewarding for some people, it can also be extremely stressful!

The pandemic has exacerbated the pressures on carers due to social isolation and the limited access to social services and other relevant organisations

According to the Carers Trust (2022)

  • 4 in 5 unpaid Carers (81%) are currently providing more care than before the pandemic.
  • More than three quarters (78%) of Carers reported that the needs of the person they care for have increased recently.
  • Most Carers (64%) have not been able to take any breaks at all in the last six months.
  • More than half (58%) of Carers have seen their physical health impacted by caring through the pandemic, while 64% said their mental health has worsened.

A carer’s personal story:
During the pandemic, my dad, who had Dementia, deteriorated very quickly and had to go into care. He went from being my protector to not knowing how to eat and seeing that unfold before my eyes were absolutely devastating. I felt sad or frustrated most of the time, and during that time I met many other carers, witnessing a decline in their health and wellbeing as the pandemic took hold. Although I had amazing people in my life and I encountered some excellent organisations, it always felt like a lonely journey when it came down to the everyday nitty-gritty and I never seemed to have time to do anything other than function at a basic level! People used to say things like “you need to look after yourself” and although I knew they meant well, it was easier said than done. I was on my knees from travelling to the care home, dealing with the regularly occurring crises, managing my many other commitments including a full-time business, and feeling drained from the rollercoaster of emotions. All this was combined with an overwhelming sense of helplessness even though, rationally, I knew I was doing everything I could. So, I just kept going, but as my body was in permanent fight/flight the continuous build-up of toxic stress started to emerge as physical reactions. These included high blood pressure, palpitations, weight gain, severe headaches, blurred vision, to name a few!

On a daily basis, I found that I was having to speak to so many different professionals and make important decisions that, more often than not, would not result in any kind of positive outcome. Because of the high level of emotions attached to that process, I was exhausted. It got to the stage where I couldn’t even answer a simple question about what I wanted for dinner!” If this resonates for you or someone you know, find out about some of the small steps you can take in order to take care of yourself.

For more informative resources on helping others, please see the following link to our information resources.

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