Welcome to our Geeks Vs Loneliness slot, where we stop for a few minutes to natter about things that may be affecting you, or people around you. As always, we don’t promise miracles or magical solutions to problems. But we do try and pass on a tip or two that we hope can help.
This week, we’re handing Geeks Vs Loneliness over to Jane, who wanted to talk about carers…
I want to start by saying this to carers: you’re awesome.
We appreciate you come in all shapes, all sizes. All forms and with different issues and responsibilities. All ages. Each of these factors brings its own complexity to what you do.
Some of you may be still in education. You may work full or part time. Or you may be a full time carer – which is responsibility enough in itself.
No matter the circumstances that you find yourself in, or how you define yourself as a carer, you all share a really difficult vocation. And it is a vocation – not a job. Carers don’t care for money. They care for love. In a world where a financial value is placed on so much, it’s worth just stepping back and thinking about that. Because it’s a pretty selfless thing to do.
Caring can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. It can be sleepless nights when your loved one is sick; sleepless nights caused by worrying about treatment, about the future, about securing the basic finances to provide a secure roof over your heads.
The cared-for may be at a stage where they can no longer live with you and may have to go into some form of residential care. That doesn’t end the caring. How many Care Commission reports have you poured over, agonising about care standards and staffing ratios and whether you afford the never-ending bills to provide the best care that you can provide?
This is before you take into account the heartbreaking agony of decision making you have to go through before concluding that care may be better provided elsewhere. The caring and responsibility doesn’t stop even when your loved one is no longer physically in your home.
Some of you out there reading this are carers. It has been touched on in the comments section in Geeks Vs Loneliness articles before, and I just want to tell you that we are listening. That we know it isn’t easy. That some days you may just need to raise a hand and say that you’re struggling.
Some of you aren’t carers but chances are you know one, or work with one. Carers Trust estimates that there are seven million carers in the UK. It is worth remembering that sometimes they might need a bit of slack. They may have to cancel social events at short notice. Call in to work for time off at the last minute because they have unexpected appointments.
You’ll find people aren’t asking for special treatment. They may desperately need that later start in the morning. They’ll generally repay you back with dedication and commitment if you treat them with a bit of common empathy and compassion and give them the space to show that they’re appreciated. If they are a friend who can’t make it out to the cinema or for a drink because of home commitments, consider taking the entertainment to them. Pitch up with wine, popcorn and a funny film.
Listen, if they need to talk.
There are some excellent charities in the UK offering support to carers. Both Carers Trust and Carers UK operate a network of carers centres providing a wide mix of services including advice on benefits, specific support for young carers, care services, counselling and contact with other people who understand what it is like to be a carer.
If you are caring for (or related to) someone with mental health issues then Rethink are superb, offering a sibling network of support along with their general carer support programme. You will also usually find your GP sympathetic to your caring needs and they may be able to offer counselling support where appropriate.
If you just want to talk, leave a comment below.
Finally, we’ll repeat. Whatever form of caring you do, you are awesome.
Thanks for reading, and, as always, take care.