Looking after someone – even somebody you love dearly – can be extremely demanding. Whether you are caring for your husband or wife, a disabled child, an elderly parent or a close friend, there are bound to be times when you feel tired, angry, depressed and even resentful.
If you also have family and career responsibilities, are caring from a distance or you are a young carer still in education, you may sometimes wonder what you have taken on.
Whatever your situation, it is not reasonable for anyone to expect you to care for someone without support. In fact, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 says that local councils must ensure they meet their duty to promote the well-being of carers who need support.
Taking care of you both
First and foremost, it’s important that you take care of yourself because if you become physically or mentally unwell you will be unable to continue in your caring role.
Make sure the person you are looking after is getting all the support they need. This might not always mean social care services – there is now much more emphasis on preventative services and giving people the information, advice and assistance they need to make their own choices about how they live their lives.
The importance of training for carers has now been recognised so be certain to find out what is available in your area.
Safeguarding each other
Abusing or neglecting someone is always wrong. Taking care of your own well-being will help you deal with the emotional and physical demands of caring.
Nor should you tolerate abuse from the person you are looking after, no matter what their circumstances.
Looking after an older person
Older people who have their support needs met at home are very likely to be looked after, at least some of the time, by family members. Make sure the person has their needs assessed and find out what other support might be available, for example, home adaptations, technology, daily living aids and lunch clubs.
Looking after someone who lacks capacity
You only have a legal right to make decisions on someone else’s behalf if they are unable to make those decisions themselves. For example, if the person you care for has severe learning disabilities or advanced dementia. You should not assume someone lacks capacity because they are old, frail or disabled – or because you don’t agree with the decisions they make.
Looking after a disabled child
As the carer (and usually the parent) of a disabled child you may find yourself surrounded by an alarming number of support services, including health, social care and education professionals. There are also parent-led support groups, online forums and national charities to offer advice and support to the whole family.
Support from other carers
Carers can sometimes feel very isolated in their role.
Many carers find it helpful to talk to others in the same situation.
There are numerous carers support groups and carers centres across Wales so ask your local council what is available in your area.
Carers UK has an online forum where carers can support one another and discuss the day-to-day issues that affect them.
The Carers Trust has an online community where carers can share tips and ideas with other carers or just have a pause in their day for some fun. Write on the boards, email the helpline or drop into live chat anytime.