Health & Wellbeing
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 and ensure you attend any health appointments or wellbeing checks. If you are struggling to do this, please contact the Centre and our team of workers can support you with this.
Adult Social Care Gateway Team
(0191) 643 2777
North Tyneside Council (Children’s Care)
0345 2000 109
Looking After Yourself
Below you will find self-assessment ‘check lists’, designed to help you to think about the impact that caring is having on your health and wellbeing, how your caring role affects your life and things you can change to make caring easier. It covers:
- Your health
- Healthy lifestyle
- Emotional needs
- Keeping safe
- Your caring role
- Juggling work and care
The purpose of the ‘wellbeing checks’ is to help you access health interventions early and to continue caring safely in a way that suits you, without your own health suffering. Some of the changes you identify you will be able to manage yourself and some you will need help with, either from a professional or from friends and family.
Carers Wellbeing Checks
Consider the following questions and if you have answer ‘yes’ to any of them you should consider contacting your GP surgery to make an appointment, if you have not already done so.
Have you had any health related advice that you have put off following up?
Is there anything about your physical health that worries you?
Have you been offered any type of health check or screening in the last 12 months but not taken up the offer?
Have you had a fall or any problems with your balance in the last 12 months?
If your caring role involves you moving or handling the person you care for, or equipment e.g. hoist or wheelchair, is there any pain associated with this?
Have you experienced any of the following?
- Increased thirst
- Increased or frequent passing of urine
- Changes in your bowel habits or blood in stools
- Changes in your breast (men too)
- Chest pain
- More tired than usual
- During the last few months have you often felt down, depressed or hopeless?
- Do you worry about your memory getting worse?
Prevention and early intervention is always the best option and in most instances, a GP consultation will give you peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.
With so much of your time and energy focused on caring for someone, eating healthily or getting any form of exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but a healthy lifestyle helps reduce stress levels and improve sleep. Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous to be worthwhile and you may be able to do it alongside caring.
Consider the questions in the following sections – If you answer yes to any of them you might want to put some time aside to think about how you might look after your physical and mental health a little better. For more information and guidance visit My Care.
Are you taking regular medication?
If yes – is your medication being regularly reviewed by your doctor or pharmacist?
Do you need any help or advice with your:
- foot care?
- oral health or getting a dentist appointment?
Do you have any problems preparing meals or do you skip meals because you feel you are too busy?
Are you smoking more, drinking more alcohol or using drugs to help you cope?
Do you find it hard to get to sleep or sleep continuously through the night?
Do find taking time to exercise difficult?
Looking after your own needs is important. Missing regular health checks, skipping meals and not getting enough sleep or exercise could mean that you become unwell.
Caring can place huge demands on your time and energy. For some carers, stress is simply a fact of life, but many also feel overwhelmed. This can lead to anxiety and depression. It is not unusual for carers at times to have feelings of guilt, anger, feeling trapped, grief and loss. However, carers can also feel very positive about caring.
Consider the following questions. If you have answered ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’ to any of them, it may be helpful for you to talk to someone about what to do or how to get more support. You can contact North Tyneside Carers’ Centre on 0191 643 2298. You can also visit the My Care website to find out about local support and services.
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed?
Do you find the behaviour of the person you care for upsetting at times?
Are you concerned about what would happen if you became ill, or in the event of an emergency?
Do you worry about what might happen to the person you care for in the future?
Do you have the opportunity to have time away from caring, to do the things you enjoy?
Would you like information or help about meeting other carers for mutual support?
It is possible for carers to be harmed by the person that they care for, due to the symptoms of their illness, for example when caring for a person with dementia. Caring for someone can be extremely stressful and can put you under immense pressure. It is important that you are able to share these feelings or experiences with someone so that you can get the support you need before things become too much.
Consider the following questions. If you have answered Yes or sometimes to any of them, it may be helpful for you to talk to someone about what to do or how to get more support. You can contact North Tyneside Carers’ Centre on 0191 643 2298. You can also visit the My Care website to find out about local support and services.
Do you ever feel unsafe in your caring role?
(E.g. because of the behaviour of the person you care for etc.)
Do you worry about losing your patience with the person you care for?
Are there people in your neighbourhood who make you feel anxious by their behaviour towards you or the person you care for?
Your Caring Role
Thinking about the demands caring places upon your life will help you to identify the type of support that would help you most to continue caring, or to talk about ways to reduce your caring responsibilities. Many carers feel that their stress is reduced if they can plan for the future or think through what to do in a crisis or emergency.
If you answer Yes or sometimes to these questions it may be helpful for you to talk to someone about what to do or how to get more support. You can contact North Tyneside Carers’ Centre on 0191 643 2298. You can also visit the My Care website to find out about local support and services.
Are there any caring tasks that you would prefer not to do or that cause you difficulty?
Do you find your role as carer has changed and is more challenging as you get older?
Are there any areas of your caring role that you would like help to develop more skills/confidence in? (e.g. First aid; giving medication; moving and handling etc.)
Is there anything about the illness or condition of the person you care for that you don’t fully understand? (e.g.symptoms, treatment, medication)
Do you worry about what to do in an emergency involving the person you care for?
Do you have any financial concerns, perhaps about welfare benefits or debts?
Would you like more information or support in:
- Managing day to day tasks for care at home
- Managing home repairs, safety and security
- Getting a short break from your caring responsibilities
- Benefits entitlement check
- Planning for the future
Juggling Work and Care
You may feel that you are juggling two jobs when you are holding down a paid job and also caring for someone, but work can be important for your wellbeing, income and for maintaining social contacts.
Think carefully before giving up work to care as your work will provide you with financial security, time away and a sense of identity separate from caring. You may be able to access support that will help you to continue to work or have other options available such as flexible working, so it is a good idea to consider all of your options and not make hasty decisions. Here are some questions for you to consider.
Do you feel you are struggling to balance your work and caring responsibilities?
Is juggling your commitments having an impact on your health and wellbeing?
Do you feel you need more support to help you stay in work?
Is your job at risk because of the level of caring you are providing?
If you have answered yes or I don’t know to the above questions you might want to look for additional support and information by:
- Talking to your family/appropriate friends / community about the help they can provide so you can take a break
- Checking with your Union or ACAS to get advice on your employment rights as a carer
- Checking with your HR department or line manger to find out about any carer friendly policies
- Contacting North Tyneside Carers’ Centre and asking about:
- Carers Emergency
- Break Scheme
- Meeting others – carer support groups
- Training for carers
- Information re. benefits; employment rights etc.
- Information re. condition specific voluntary agencies supporting carers
- Access to short breakContacting your GP practice to make relevant appointments or for health advice
- Contacting Adult Social Care (or your Care Manager) about:
- Additional assessment or help
- Equipment to help you care safely
- Any concerns about keeping safe
- A longer break from caring
- Help for the person you are am supporting