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Patient Information

Self-care for carers

https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/information/self-care-for-carers

You need lots of energy and strength to be an unpaid carer. So it is vital you look after yourself. Fortunately, there is plenty of emotional, physical and financial support available. Here, we suggest where to find support and help before it is necessary.

Emotional support for carers
Look after your mental wellbeing
Practical support for carers 
Financial support for carers 

For more information, see our Advice for people who care for others1 page. This offers lots of links to further resources and practical topics.

Emotional support for carers

Being a carer can be exhausting and stressful. It is very important to look after your mental health and emotions.

Local Carers’ Centre

Your local carers’ centre offers support, general information and advice whenever you need it. This can include what benefits you may be entitled to, for advocacy, and for help filling out forms.

It may be a good idea to get their monthly newsletter to hear what events and support will be on that month. 

Peer support groups

Support groups are an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation to you. Most groups are available online or face-to-face. Your local carers network will have more information on these specifically for your local area.

One group which everyone can access is Mobilise’s Cuppa sessions2. These are online support for unpaid carers. Join their virtual ‘cuppa’ sessions to meet other unpaid carers.

Speak to your friends and family

The people closest to you can usually provide a network of emotional or practical support. So it is important to talk to those you value and to ask for their help.

Counselling

Consider if you would benefit from counselling. A counsellor can listen and give advice. Sessions can be offered online, face-to-face, or even over email.

Ask your local carers’ centre or GP about counselling. They should be able to recommend local services. You can also use the online counselling directory3 to find a counsellor or therapist near you.

Self-help

The Headspace App4 can provide a valuable introduction into meditation and mindfulness. It offers a wide range of short and long audio clips and videos. The app also includes podcasts, exercise videos and much more.

There are also other useful resources you can try.

Look after your mental wellbeing 

Always try to look after your own mental health. Do not leave it until you are struggling and stressed. Doing this may help you manage difficult times in the future. Over time, it might also reduce your risk of physical health problems.

Speak with your GP or local carers’ centre if you want more information on how you can support yourself emotionally.

Here are 6 steps you can use to try to improve your mental wellbeing. For further information, visit Every Mind Matters10

  1. Replace unhelpful thoughts
    How we think, feel and behave are connected. It is easy to get stuck with unhelpful thoughts and negative patterns. Recognising this and replacing unhelpful thoughts can improve mental health and well-being. Watch this short clip from the NHS Mind Matters11 for more on this.
  2. Focus on the present
    It is natural for our minds to think about the past and the future, especially when we are busy or stressed. But focusing on the present, also known as ‘being more mindful’, is important too. It can improve your energy levels and motivation, help you gain a better perspective, and make you appreciate what is happening around you.

    Try this 1-minute mindful breathing exercise12 or read this blog13. Age UK also has an explanation of mindfulness14 and general support tips. Speak to your GP or local carers network about other resources they have to help with this.
  3. Get a good night sleep
    Getting enough sleep is vital to how we feel physically and mentally.

    Here is a short video15 on ideas for productive rest as a carer, and advice from Carers UK16 and Age UK17 on getting enough sleep.
  4. Connect with others
    Meet with friends and family and spend quality and enjoyable time together. This can help you feel better if you feel down, and it can be nice to feel like you are not alone. Doing this can improve your mental health and wellbeing. iIf you are unable to meet face-to-face, even a phone call or speaking online can help.

    The peer support section (near the top of this page) talks about this and the Mobilise’s Cuppa sessions. You can also find out more on socialising18 and there is a 2-minute video19 on making new social connections.
  5. Live a healthy life
    Going outdoors, being active and having a healthy balanced diet can have a huge impact on how you feel. Carers UK have lots of advice on nutrition20. It also has an Active Hub21 filled with videos and resources to support you increasing your activity levels and improving health and wellbeing.
  6. Enjoy yourself
    Take time for yourself and do activities you like and have fun doing. This may be going out for a coffee, playing a game or even learning a new hobby.  

Practical support for carers 

It is okay to want and ask for practical support.

New equipment

There is lots of equipment which can make caring a lot easier. You can ask about this with the GP of the person you care for. They may suggest speaking directly to social services, who can do a needs assessment and see what further support can be offered. 

Home adaptations

Making changes to the home can make life easier for you as a carer. For formal support on this, speak to your Borough’s social services or your social worker, if you have one. They will likely do a home needs assessment to see what they can do to help. 

Meal preparation support

There are services around the country that can bring prepared meals to those who are unable to prepare their own. This type of service may be able to offload some of the responsibilities you have as a carer. One popular program is Meals on Wheels. Speak to your social worker or local social services to find out more about this. Another similar meal support service is Wiltshire Farm Foods22. They can deliver frozen batches of food which just need heating up.

A break from caring

It is important to know when to take a break. But, of course, it can be hard to find the time. It is crucial to prioritise looking after your own physical and mental health, especially in times of stress. By doing this, you will be physically and mentally stronger to care for someone.

Carer respite is when you have help so that you can take a break. There is a lot of information online about this. The NHS website and your local carers network will also have more information.

There are different type and lengths of respite available. The NHS website23 has more on this. There are also free things like a befriending service24. Often, these will involve a volunteer coming to sit with you or your cared for person, giving you an option to have some time for yourself.

Financial support for carers 

It is helpful to be aware of what you, as a carer, could financially be entitled to. Carers First25 also offer video clips on what financial support is available to carers and what benefits you may be able to claim. 

  • Carer’s Assessment
    This is an needs assessment26 to get support on a formal basis. This may include financial support from the Government to help you in your caring role. All carers have the right to get a carer’s assessment. Your GP can arrange this for you, or you can speak to your local carers’ centre which can complete it with you.
  • Citizens Advice
    They cover a range of useful advice for carers across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You may find it beneficial to look at their information27 around benefits, grants and getting help with the cost of living.
  • Carer’s Allowance
    If you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week, and earn less than £132 a week, you could be entitled for this type of financial support. Get in touch with social services or your local carers’ centre to see if you are eligible.  
  • Carer’s Credit
    If you care for someone for 20 hours a week or more and are under the state pension age, you may be eligible for this. It is a Class 3 National Insurance credit which counts towards benefits, such as your state pension. 
  • Attendance Allowance
    This allowance is for those who need a carer, and for those who receive the qualifying disability benefit. It can help pay for things like getting a carer or a cleaner to come in, or getting a taxi to hospital.
  • Winter Financial Support
    There are many other financial support schemes to help carers. These include heating benefits28, which come under the Warm Home Discount Scheme, the Cold Weather Payment and the Winter Fuel Payments.
  • Trussell Trust Food Bank finder
    If you are struggling with the rising cost of food, use this search engine29 to find support near you. They can then put you in touch with the relevant referral agency so that you can access a voucher.
  • Turn2us
    A search engine30 to find grants that you may be eligible for.  

Get in touch

We hope you have found this information helpful.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with our Carers’ Clinical Liaison Service31 if you are ever visiting. We want to make sure you have the right support around you and, if not, you know where to get it. 

Links used in this page

1Kingston Hospital logo
https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/information/advice-for-people-who-care-for-others/
2
https://www.mobiliseonline.co.uk/cuppa
3
https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/
4
https://www.headspace.com/
5
https://www.whocares4carers.com/videos/
6
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Cares-Hidden-Crisis-Caregiving/dp/B0BPYS4Z71/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
7https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v6561h5h36rs9z3/AAA22CJVWsnLn1lk_q97GLpea?e=3&dl=0), https://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Cares-yourself-whilst-caring/dp/1781611726
8
https://www.shopcarersuk.org/en/products/view_products/books/creative-writing-anthology-vol-one
9
https://www.mobiliseonline.co.uk/post/books-every-carer-should-read
10
https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-wellbeing-tips/
11
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfkhkFwCtxs
12
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEqZthCaMpo
13
https://www.betterup.com/blog/how-to-be-present
14
https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/mindfulness/ 
15
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5xNWtH6IeI&t=1s
16
https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/your-health-and-wellbeing/getting-enough-sleep/
17
https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/getting-a-good-nights-sleep/
18
https://wecareyoucare.info/useful-information/socialising
19
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm12mTIUJss
20
https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/your-health-and-wellbeing/the-importance-of-good-nutrition/
21
https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/your-health-and-wellbeing/keeping-active-and-well/
22
https://wiltshirefarmfoods.com/ 
23
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/support-and-benefits-for-carers/carer-breaks-and-respite-care/
24
https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/
25
https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/campaigns/lightentheload/financial-support-films/
26
https://www.gov.uk/apply-needs-assessment-social-services 
27
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/looking-after-people/carers-help-and-support/ 
28
https://www.mobiliseonline.co.uk/post/financial-support-in-winter-for-carers 
29
https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ 
30
https://www.turn2us.org.uk/ 
31Kingston Hospital logo
https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/introducing-our-carers-clinical-liaison-service/


Contacts

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) 020 8934 3993 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
khft.pals@nhs.net
Carers UK helpline 0808 808 7777 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
advice@carersuk.org

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Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 893 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For detailed information on accessibility at Kingston Hospital visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble (https://www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust).


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