As a carer you can often be so busy looking after the person you care for that you forget about your own health and wellbeing. It is really important that you look after yourself though! Below we have provided some information and links to help you understand and manage your own wellbeing. Bear in mind that while these resources can be helpful, they are not designed to take the place of personalised face to face support.
At Credu we will carry out a wellbeing assessment with you. This isn’t a carer’s assessment, which is carried out by your local social services – a wellbeing assessment is a conversation in which we will consider your health and wellbeing as a carer, and look at aspects such as
- sleeping and getting enough rest,
- eating healthily,
- your physical health,
- dealing with stress,
- your mental and emotional wellbeing,
so that we can offer you the right support and information tailored to your personal needs.
Do take a look through the information and links below, but also get in touch with us to arrange your wellbeing assessment. You can have this more than once, and we encourage you to speak to us whenever there has been a change, so that you always get the right help to look after your health and wellbeing.
Sleep and rest
You may be struggling to get enough quality sleep – maybe the person you care for wakes up during the night, or maybe you can’t switch off because you are worrying about them. Lack of sleep can have an impact on your caring role, and can affect your health.
Your carer’s assessment with social services will look at how much sleep you get, and there may be support available such as overnight paid care workers and telecare systems that will alert you if the person you care for needs help.
Your wellbeing assessment with us will help us provide you with other information, advice and support. We can also help you talk to your GP about your lack of sleep (this is called advocacy), connect you with other carers in your local area who are in a similar situation, and link you up with local services and groups that can help.
The Carers Trust website has an information page about “Ways to sleep better” and these include:
- Exercising and getting outside even for short periods of time daily
- Food and planning what you eat and when
- Drinking and staying hydrated
- Medication and melatonin
- Having a bedtime routine and relaxation techniques
The NHS Choices website has a page on “Self-help tips for insomnia”.
It is sometimes hard to remember to eat healthily if you are very busy caring. We can help with advice and information on simple ways to improve the way you eat. This will help you stay well and have enough energy to undertake your caring role.
The Carers Trust website has an information page of tips for healthy eating.
Looking after your back
If you need to move and lift the person you care for, this can place a lot of strain on your back. This will be covered in your carer’s assessment as well as in your wellbeing assessment, so that you are able to avoid, prevent, or treat back pain if it happens.
The Carers Trust website has an information page about back care.
Dealing with stress
It is important that you recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, which happens when the demands that are placed on you exceed what you can cope with. You may feel overwhelmed and out of control, or feel sick and panicky, or feel detached from everyday life. It can have different effects on different people, and can also affect you physically.
We can help you cope with stress through, for example, our counselling service, helping you arrange breaks and respite, putting you in touch with other carers in your local area who understand what you’re going through, and who you can meet for activities and trips, and helping you talk to your GP about it (advocacy).
The Carers Trust website has an information page about ways to reduce stress which includes tools and techniques such as:
- Deep breathing
- Mindfulness, meditation and music
- Exercising, eating well and sleeping more
- Prioritising what you need to do and managing your time
- Being kind to yourself
The NHS Choices website has a breathing exercise for stress.
The flu jab
The flu vaccination helps to protect you from getting ill, which would have an impact on the person you care for. It also makes it less likely that you’ll pass the virus on to them; they may be at higher risk of catching the flu and more likely to develop complications and become seriously ill as a result.
You can either let your GP practice know that you’d like a flu vaccination because you’re someone’s main carer (and that their welfare would be at risk if you were ill), or ask your local pharmacy; they will liaise with your GP practice to let them know that you’ve been vaccinated. The person you care for may be able to get a flu jab as well at the same time.
The NHS Choices website has an information page about the flu jab.
The 5 ways to wellbeing
These five elements have come out of extensive research by the new economics foundation about what contributes to wellbeing:
- Connecting with others
- Being active
- Taking notice
Talk to us – we can help with many of these aspects, by putting you in touch with other carers in your local area, offering training courses including mindfulness, and volunteering opportunities.
The new economics foundation section on the five ways to wellbeing research.
More information about looking after your wellbeing
The Carers UK website has a guide to self-advocacy for carers which includes topics such as:
- Dealing with anger
- Dealing with anxiety
- How do you see your own needs
- How to manage your stress
The Alzheimer’s Society website has a very comprehensive factsheet which applies to all carers, not just carers for people with dementia, and has a downloadable pdf and an audio version available. Carers: looking after yourself
The Mind website has a useful factsheet about looking after yourself when you’re a carer.