Month: July 2020

Inviting a stranger into the home to provide live-in care can be daunting. Where do you start to build a comfortable relationship between carer and person receiving care? 

Once your loved one has made the brave decision to welcome a live-in carer into their home, so much of their experience will rest on the relationship they are able to cultivate with them. That’s why taking some time to get to know them can be hugely beneficial.

Experience tells us that carers need to show qualities such as empathy, kindness, patience and respect, and that every successful candidate is an exceptional communicator. A good care organisation will take the time to look for these qualities in candidates, and all care recipients in their families can do the same.

Even if we’re sure that the carer and recipient are a good match, the relationship is still an unusual one, and needs to be nurtured. To function well it has to be both professional and functional. How the two individuals interact from the beginning is important. These four questions to ask the carer can help build a lasting trust.

1. Why did you start working in care?

When anyone accepts someone into their house to look after them and spend so much time with them, they are having to place trust in the carer’s character as well as their professionalism. Knowing what led them to pursue a career in care will help understand who they are, and asking this question could lead to hearing their stories about the tragedies and triumphs of those they have cared for, which could make it easier to share in turn.

2. What are you passionate about?

Finding common interests is a vital component of any friendly relationship, and while the two will inevitably build some new ones through being around one another so much, it’s even better if, for instance, they both happen to be big cricket fans. Both will definitely want to have as much to talk about as possible, as they’ll soon exhaust a lot of conversational topics! Each finding out what the other cares about will also make it easier for them to relate on a personal level.

3. How do you get through difficult times?

Needing care puts someone in an extremely vulnerable position – one that is further complicated by the myriad effects of ill health and loneliness. This makes miscommunication a very dangerous thing indeed. No matter how good a relationship two people have, awkward moments are unavoidable when they spend almost every day together.

As your carer opens up, they will start to show that they too are vulnerable, as we all are. The more the care recipient knows about the coping mechanisms that work for their carer, the better they will be able to understand and support them when something is getting the carer down. The carer will appreciate this enormously, and everyone may well find the occasional role reversal rewarding!

4. How can I make it easier for you to help me?

This is a very complicated question, but an extremely useful one – even more useful than the others. Simply asking it will communicate to the carer that the person they are looking after understands the challenges of their role and wants to play a part in making the relationship as smooth as possible. What’s more, the carer may indeed have some particular suggestions or requests.

Perhaps the carer worries that the care recipient won’t speak up if they’re unsatisfied with their work, and it would help them to know that everyone will feel comfortable addressing any issues instead of suffering in silence. One never knows what might help until one asks.

Why it works

These questions are all the more worthwhile because no one receiving care is obliged to ask them, as they constitute a kind gesture. No carer, no matter how diligent, dedicated and professional, is immune to exhaustion, sadness or loss of motivation.

Even if they don’t let such things show, they could affect their work without them even knowing. By recognising their needs and their humanity, the care recipient can increase the bond, make themselves more comfortable around the carer, and make it so much easier for the carer to focus on what matters to them more than anything – caring as well as they possibly can.

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Collaborative Post
Being a caregiver can be tough, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Too often, we are so caught up with the wellbeing of the individuals who require care, that we forget the impact on the caregivers providing it. Although rewarding, caring for someone can have a profound effect on your own health and wellbeing, so making the most of the help available to you is vital. There is emotional, practical and financial support available to all carers, with many of the government resources made available not widely known.

Caregiver’s Assessment
If you regularly provide a substantial amount of care for someone, your local council’s social services department should give you a carer’s assessment. This assessment will establish what you need and what might help you with your caring role. This could include respite care to give you a break, and financial help towards your role or equipment to make life easier. This list is not exhaustive. The assessment will give you the chance to talk about the care you provide and the impact it has on your life. The assessor will look at the support you get and what else is available to you.

You will need to contact your local council to set up your first carer’s assessment.

Financial Support for Caregivers
Caring for someone requires a tremendous level of generosity and compassion, but this should not be at the detriment of your own financial stability. Being a caregiver can be expensive, especially if you need to give up work in order to care full-time. There are various schemes in place that aim to ensure you can remain financially secure and that your state pension is protected despite not ‘working’ in the traditional sense.

Carer’s Personal Budget
If you have a carer’s assessment with your local council, they may find that you are eligible for a Carer’s Personal Budget. This is money that will go directly towards your caring role, whether it be for travel expenses, leisure activities or help with housework or gardening. You would be given a lump sum to cover a 12-month period, with the amount depending on your circumstances.

Carers’ Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is the main welfare benefit to help carers. It could give you an extra £66.15 per week if you spend at least 35 hours per week caring for a disabled person and is paid every four weeks. You can make your claim online on the GOV.UK website, or over the telephone. If you have any queries or need additional support in applying, Age UK offer in-person assistance throughout the UK.

Carer’s Credit
Carers’ Credit is available to anyone who cares for someone for at least 20 hours per week. The credit helps to maintain your National Insurance contributions, which go towards your State Pension eligibility. If you receive Carers’ Allowance, you should receive the credit automatically.

Equipment, Technology and Supplies
From a small piece of handheld kit, to a full home renovation, there is a lot in the way of equipment and technology that can make your role easier, but that is not readily available. You can either buy your own equipment, or access it through the NHS. Following an assessment for the person you care for, equipment needed or minor adaptations to a home (under £1000) may be provided free of charge.

The everyday supplies for care should also be provided by your local council to the person you care for, following the assessment. This could cover incontinence products and supplies, which have the potential to become costly. If the person you care for does not qualify to get them through the NHS, HARTMANN Direct offer affordable incontinence products delivered directly to your door.

Respite Care
Being a caregiver can be rewarding, but that doesn’t mean it comes without its own challenges. There may come a time when you just need a break, whether that be for a holiday, for a hospital stay, or just for some time to recharge your own batteries, This is where respite care comes in. Respite care is the term used for services designed to give you a break from caring.

Someone may take over your day-to-day caregiving role on an ongoing basis, or they may simply take the person you care for on a day trip. Respite care can either be provided as a result of your carer’s assessment, or through a needs assessment for the person you look after, and this will be provided by the local council.

This guide to government services is not exhaustive – there are many resources available for caregivers. Whether you are new to caring and struggling with navigating what is available, or you are an experienced carer in need of extra support to cope, there is a lot available to you that may make life just that little bit easier. Carers UK have comprehensive guides freely available to browse, as do Carers Trust and these are the best places to find accurate information.
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