It has never been more important to support our unpaid carers, many of whom may have experienced their support networks dwindle in the national response to Covid.
Initially, what helped me most as a carer was quite simply the information available that helped me acknowledge myself as a carer.
I am first and foremost Anne-Marie, a daughter, a mum, a wife, a sister, a friend and nurse who also just happens to care for my parents, which to me felt a normal response to a situation many find themselves in.
My mum has lived with cancer for many years and my dad is now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. As my dad’s needs have increased I recognise how important my role is to both my parents, but also how important it is for me to be able to do this.
I realised that my parents could not manage without either me or my sister and our extended family. Whether that be shopping, collecting prescriptions or providing hands on care to my dad who requires both physical and mental support.
It is a privilege to be able to provide that support and there are many, many positives. But without a doubt it can be a lonely and difficult journey and I have had my fair share of “down” days. The responsibility can sometimes feel overwhelming.
I am a proud and resilient Nurse whose job it is to care for others. It was not easy for me to accept I too needed support.
If I had not identified myself as a carer I could have missed out on the invaluable support that is offered to make things easier.
Carer Support Wiltshire helped me by recognising I needed to stay well to continue to provide support to my parents and to continue working. Carers deserve to feel cared for, it is such an important yet often undervalued role.
We have peace of mind knowing mum, who is the main carer for dad but with her own health problems, has an emergency carers card. If mum was taken ill or had an accident, the emergency services would know that mum is a carer and dad would need emergency help.
When all your energy goes into caring for your family member, neighbour or friend you often don’t stop to reach out or know what to ask for. Carer Support can provide you with that direction and help focus your efforts, giving you the resource you might need. There is no such thing as a typical carer.
I recognise how isolating it can be, particularly for those unable to access information online or know who to reach out to. For those of us that work in health or social care and who come into contact daily with unpaid carers it is so important to also think of their needs. A positive relationship with all our carers can make for better outcomes and experiences for everyone.
I work for Wiltshire Health and Care, who are making many positive changes to how we work alongside carers. We are committed to the identification, recognition and support for our carers – they should be seen as equal partners in the provision of care.
Carers Passports are available to all those providing that care and signposting and referral to Carer Support Wiltshire. We are all encouraged to “Think Carer”.
I am supported both practically and emotionally in my caring role by being part of a carer aware workplace. Wiltshire Health and Care have worked for carers accreditation to support those that work but also have an unpaid caring roles.
I recognise that my confidence to provide care to my parents comes from my nursing background. Carer Support acknowledge this and, for the lay person with no medical background, have ensured they can source bespoke training to support them in their role, equipping them with much-needed information to give them the confidence to care.
Just a simple signpost to Carer Support services could make the biggest impact to the individual carer; ultimately ensuring they can continue in their caring role. They have a huge amount of resource – for example, supporting the wellbeing of that carer through advice or ability to talk it through, and financial worries can be discussed.
Sometimes something as simple as talking with another carer helps. Someone who can truly understand and can identify and empathise with your situation. Something so simple can make a big difference.
My family and I are so grateful to both Carer Support Wiltshire and Alzheimer’s Support Wiltshire. It is difficult to put into words the difference they make. It is a feeling that cannot be easily conveyed. Put simply, I could not do what I do without them. And if I couldn’t do what I do, the ripples would be far reaching.