The Impact of Being Able to Have a Break from Caring.
It’s Carers Rights day on Thursday 24th November. But wait, you may say, what is a carer and who are they caring for?
Firstly it’s important to distinguish between a paid support worker or personal assistant and an unpaid carer. A carer means someone providing unpaid care.
When we talk about carers we are referring to people who are unpaid carers of someone with a condition, disability, illness or of someone who is older. 1 in 8 people in the UK are currently caring for someone.
Carers rights include:
- The right to a Carer’s Assessment and your identified needs being met
- Rights at work and the right not to be discriminated against because of your caring role
- The right to be recognised as a carer
- The right to be included in hospital discharge planning
- The right to register with your GP Practice as an unpaid carer to enable you to access health checks and Covid-19 and flu vaccinations
- Carers right to a break
You can find out more about the rights and entitlements of carers. Go here for more information:
What’s it like being a carer of an adult with a neurodivergent condition such as ADHD or Autism?
There’s a lot of concerns and worry that the young adult may not be coping with day to day life.
Carers can spend a lot of their time and energy looking for services which can potentially provide support or help for the young adult, including finding professionals who can undertake assessments and diagnoses.
These carers, who are often the parents of the young adult, may not feel able to get a break from their young adult or leave them alone, or they may have left home but still be needing high levels of support. That could be financial, practical, dealing with services, helping them get organised, providing emotional support, making sure they eat healthily, and keep their homes in a habitable state.
Many parents of young adults with Autism or ADHD and other health conditions as well, who contact me for support or information are unaware they are carers. Some of them are not surprisingly extremely tired and emotionally drained. Having a break from caring can make all the difference to a person’s life. As a carer myself I could not continue to provide care effectively without regular planned breaks from caring.
There are several ways to have breaks that you could consider:
One – getting a break from caring from the person that you provide care for, in other words arranging for someone else to take over from you and provide care instead.
Two – getting a break from your “workplace”; for carers this could mean getting away from your routine at home, and even your home itself. Most people who take time off work take it for granted that they will be spending time away from their place of work, however for carers whose workplace is their home, this aspect is often overlooked.
Breaks can be short like a few hours or a day out for yourself, or they can be longer and involve a night or two or even more away from your cared-for person or away from your home.
Things I have noticed when I get exhausted from caring continuously without a break:
I get crabby and irritable.
Life seems less enjoyable and I lose my sense of humour.
Things seem much more effortful, and I have much less energy to tackle the everyday jobs. It’s even harder to summon up extra energy for trips or days out, as I feel too tired to be able to cope with them.
I lose my sense of perspective, and caring seems to take up all my energy.
I begin to feel hopeless and weighed down by my caring responsibilities.
By contrast when I have had regular breaks:
I feel energised and my mood is more upbeat.
My sense of humour returns, and I feel more light-hearted.
I feel able to cope well with the day to day jobs. I can plan enjoyable activities, knowing I will have enough energy to be able to carry them out and enjoy them.
I can broaden my horizons outside of caring and widen my perspective to other aspects of my life.
I feel rested, and that caring is a part of what I do, not the whole of it.
If you are a carer and are feeling you could do with some advice and support, please do get in touch with one of the carers organisations.
Carers UK have a handy database you can search to find your local support organisations:
If you are based in Devon, Devon Carers https://devoncarers.org.uk/ has lots of information on its website. There is a Carer’s Rights Day being held in the Corn Exchange in Exeter on Thursday 24th November where you can drop in to speak to someone and find out more about what’s available.