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Do you look after someone who really depends on you?
TIPS FOR CARERS By Michael Hydon
This information note shares my experience as a Carer in looking after my wife, Julie, in the last three years of her life --- learning as I went along. Practical steps below should help you as well, but you will need to take strong and positive action to get things moving. Only consider Tips that you feel will be entirely safe and appropriate to your circumstances:
1. As caring pressures can affect your own health, your GP needs to be aware of your changing situation. Ensure that you are registered as a Carer with your GP; then update your doctor regularly on how you are managing. GPs can prescribe short breaks and other services that can help.
+ Request and complete a Carers' Registration Form from your doctor's surgery.
2. Raise your confidence level and also ability to talk to doctors by learning about the medical condition(s) involved. Get in touch with the appropriate national charity: eg British Heart Foundation, Mind, Stroke Association, Alzheimer's Society, Osteoporosis Society, etc. All have contact 'phone lines / web-sites with highly relevant information --- and may have a local branch or group for support [or know of one].
3. Contact Adult Social Care within the County Council for your area and request a joint Assessment --- ie for the person for whom you care and for yourself. That should identify overall needs and ways in which you could both receive some support. Also, ask your doctor to make a referral to an NHS Occupational Therapist who can loan special equipment for the person for whom you care.
+ Equipment loaned without charge may include a raised toilet seat, a bedside commode, a hoist, wheelchair or even a hospital-style electrically operated bed.
+ Adult Social Care also has Occupational Therapists who can provide free equipment and may arrange for home adaptations such as creation of a wet room and / or stair lifts, hoists and through floor lifts. All that will make your life much easier. If your situation changes significantly, request another Assessment.
4. Additionally, a doctor's referral may be made to the District Nurses to set up regular home visits by one of their team. Get them to check you too!
5. Contact the Carers' Support Organisation for the county area in you live, highlight your situation and seek guidance on what information and support is available for you. These bodies are independent of Social Services: Surrey
Action for Carers Surrey 0303-0401234 West Sussex
Carers Support W. Sussex 0300-0288888 Hampshire
Carers Together Hampshire 01794-519495
A local Carers' Group may be available for mutual encouragement / help; ask about that.
6. Review if the person for whom you care might be eligible for any financial support [such as Personal Independence Allowance or Attendance Allowance or even a reduction in Council Tax!] and apply for that. Do you qualify for Carers Allowance?
+ One must demonstrate in each application that specific eligibility criteria are satisfied. Seek help if needed to make the best case possible.
7. Identify and remove any trip-hazards --- and then fit grab-rails. Any fall can be very dangerous particularly for an older person, with the potential to break bones and shorten independent living. This is a really important Tip.
8. Have emergency arrangements in place, particularly if the person for whom you care is vulnerable. Examples:
+ Carry a fully charged mobile 'phone so that you can be contacted and also make calls from anywhere.
+ Get and carry with you a Carer's Emergency Card so that if you have an accident your nominated contacts and authorities can be alerted to arrange care.
+ Consider a Careline attachment to your 'phone system. The person who may need to call for help [eg after a severe fall] wears a neck pendant or wrist strap with a press button that can raise the alarm in a 24/7 call centre and so call out emergency services in your absence.
+ Inside the home, a two-way baby monitor is useful if a bed-bound person needs to call for assistance from a Carer.
+ Install a a secure Key Safe outside an external door so that emergency services [and relatives / trustworthy friends] can find a door key to enter the home. Register the key safe code with Careline
9. Find ways of reducing your work-load or making it easier.
+ Pay someone else to do regular weekly chores, such as cleaning.
+ Learn how to use a laptop or tablet - and then make it work for you. Have the shopping delivered to the home by ordering through the Internet.
+ Apply for Blue Badge free parking, if eligible.
+ Try home-delivered frozen meals [eg Wiltshire] or Meals on Wheels.
+ Cook in bulk and freeze some for a reheated meal later.
+ Ask a trusted friend to sit with the person for whom care.
10. Listen to friends and family. If the situation just becomes too difficult, 'let go' and give up part of your caring role. Involve your doctor and seek external help. Encourage the person for whom you care to 'let go' also and accept fully that others will be there for them instead of just you on your own. Also, something as simple as a cuddly toy can be a comfort.
11. Do not delay in obtaining professional help from outside agencies offering specialist services [eg nursing and end-of-life care]. Get advice and a referral from your doctor.
12. Above all, protect / preserve your own health by ensuring that you get some regular respite and relaxation; avoid 'beating yourself up' if things get tough. Seek help from friends or family to allow you to get out; remember to take your own medication!
+ Thanks to a friend coming to sit with my wife, I was able to get to a weekly 1 hour 'stretch and tone class'. That was really beneficial and I still go along.
13. As you are able, relax your role as a carer and simply enjoy time in company with the person you are cherishing. That is very precious.
These Tips for Carers form part of the support for carers offered at Haslemere Methodist Church. If you can, call into its Open Door Lounge open on Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat from 10 am to 12 noon.
© 2017 Michael Hydon Tips updated 18 Nov.'17 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reproduced with permission and offered for information by
Haslemere Methodist Church Contact 01428-651549 [Michael]
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