Caring for a relative with severe learning disabilities can have a huge effect on your life, leaving you with little time and energy for your own life and wellbeing. Read our quick read guide on the impact of caring on families with a complete information sheet available to download.
Below is an extract from a new information sheet we are writing, which we featured in our latest Challenge newsletter Winter/Spring 2021: Consistency in uncertain times. Please check back here soon to read the information sheet.
For many family members their role as carer is not just around providing support for their loved one. Family carers often become informal care managers who coordinate care and support across multiple settings and providers. As the demands of this role increase so does the risk of stress, burnout, decline in own health and the ability to fulfil other roles.
The term resilience has often been used to describe people’s behaviour in response to a situation, for example: “Jake is coping well, he is very resilient.” However, ‘resilient’ is not something you are, or not, rather resilience is a much more of a dynamic ever-evolving process. Resilience is highly situation-related, meaning that a person who seems to cope in one situation may not function as well in another case.
Why is resilience important?
You are the heartbeat of your family and can only look after others who depend on you if you look after yourself. You spend so much time looking after other people that you may forget yourself – but you are important too and deserve to be cared for as much as anyone else.
Looking after yourself is not being selfish; being aware of your own feelings and needs means that you will have greater resilience to carry on – the better you feel, the better you can help others to feel.
Positive pathway to resilience
Remember resilience is a process.
Here are some steps which may be helpful.
Keep a focus on:
- Sense of purpose (having goals and something to aim for makes you better equipped to deal with difficult times)
- Positive mental attitude (having a positive but realistic approach to what you can achieve/ manage)
- Connection with others (asking for help, sharing, and talking)
- Determination (being proactive and not giving up)
- Taking control (recognising what we can do something about and what that action might be)
- Looking after yourself (having a healthy lifestyle, taking time to relax)
Adapted from Cranfield Trust’s webinar: Managing Resilience in Difficult Times: www.cranfieldtrust.org
You do not have to struggle alone
Do not be afraid to ask for help; many family carers will be feeling the same way as you and asking for help, and looking after your own needs is a strength, not a weakness. Reaching out and taking the help that is there for you is the best way to look after the people who matter to you. Notice who is reliably there for you to listen and offer practical support
Soldiering on alone can lead to longer term stress, which, if ignored, can result in burnout.
The CBF is offering free online support for family carers via video call during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Carers’ Catch Ups and Behaviour Chats. Consult our website for more information.
If you don’t have internet access, find out more about our new peer-to-peer telephone listening ear service by calling 0300 666 0126.