Tag Archives: caring

A caring community?

Welcome to my latest blog. I decided to post something different this time and I want those who read this blog to reflect. I want people to reflect on what makes a community?

Well to be honest many things actually make a community, sometimes it can be hard to pin down. After all community is a large concept, but for me I think people make a community. My thoughts on this does not stop there, I was wondering what makes a caring community? This kind of question makes things tricky, but these days a caring community is something we are still working towards.

Embed from Getty Images

I do not think a caring community can be pinned down to one thing e.g. People. I think many concepts can influence and motivate others to care about each other. If you go through my website, I often talk and promote the ideals of unpaid caring. I promote how important families care for members of that family. I promote how friends can stay connected and ask how someone is doing. I promote how neighbours check in on each other, even if to miss the latest episode of EastEnders.

The thing is to make others aware of such ideals, because I am sure when the time comes, we all would want a community that cares for us. Unfortunately it is not that simple. Those in the community all have different values, culture and different identities. How can we work towards the common value that is important to everyone in the community? There will be times when those in the community cannot understand each other or do not recognise the value of each other. This is why it is so important we continue to connect, learn and share with the community.

Embed from Getty Images

It is true that values, culture and identities are different within the community. However we can celebrate our uniqueness as a common goal and continue to share the common values we all cherish. As a community we must continue to recognise those values and build on them, everyone’s voice will be important although there will be some things we need to avoid. Not everyone wants a community, but I know deep down the majority cherish the importance of connecting, sharing, learning and building on culture. These are the great values for the community and these values can help a community that cares for its people.

Valentines day and its relation to care

Welcome to my latest blog post.

Did you know it is Valentine’s day for Feb the 14th 2022? I am sure you have not forgotten and if I just reminded all those men out there…….better get those gifts quickly.

On a serious note, when we think of valentine’s day, we think of partners or those in a relationship buying gifts for each other. We think of those who are close spending time out at the cinema, restaurant or some place special. We think of those who want to rekindle they love for each other.

Now thats a keyword ‘Love’.

I am going add something to valentines day. As you already might know, I raise awareness for those who are having to care for someone suffering mental ill health. I often think of those, even though I am not providing that sort of care anymore.

I feel, that it is not only out of love that a person is providing that care. As if it was out of duty or out of concern, but a lot of it relates to love and care.

I want valentine’s day be a reminder for those battling to keep someone here for not only valentine’s but the days, weeks, months and more so that they can one day hope the person they care for is recovering.

So valentine’s day is not always a day that we buy gifts, show off our love and feel special. Just like Christmas or other religious holidays, that valentines does have a serious deeper meaning.

The thin line of Patience – A poem by Matthew Mckenzie

Hello everyone. As you can probably tell from my website. I focus on the experience of providing unpaid care, especially regarding those suffering mental ill health. I am in my poetry phase and am to get a large number of poems off my YouTube channel.

My latest poem, which is rather short looks into how mental illness can be catching, perhaps not as bad as what the poor patient is going through, but unpaid carers are not signing and jumping for joy.

You can view my latest poem by playing the video below.

Mental Health carer poetry – On Alert

Medication

Happy new year to visitors of my mental health carer blog site. As mentioned in my earlier blog posts, I am working on promoting awareness of caring for someone suffering mental ill health.

I created a number of carer poems, quite a few are on this site, but are subject to being edited as I am often fine tuning poems.

I am also adding a couple of my poems on to my YouTube platform and will blog them every so often.

The poem I want to introduce here is titled “On Alert” as it highlights the struggle unpaid carers go through in prompting medication. A lot of carers hate doing such a task, but when the experience the person’s mental health crisis, they want to try avoid the situation again and take resort to being on alert.

Watch my 2 minute poem “On Alert” off my video link below.

A community that cares is a good one

Welcome to my latest blog. As a reminder my blog posts focus on mental health carers, what I mean about that is highlighting the caring experiences of those caring for someone with mental ill health or mental health needs. This latest blog post is about community, because when all is said and done for health and social care, it is how the outcomes impact the community.

Some would say to test good quality wellbeing and a caring community, you can literally pick an area in town and stand there to observe. If you see run down apartments, no one talking to each other, anti-social behaviour, lots of noise and people seeming unwell, then this is a prime example of a community in trouble. When we notice such things, it does not take long to think to ourselves who is responsible for all of this?

I am not saying that all communities are like this, but it is worthwhile to experience what I am mentioning. Of course don’t do this at night especially if the community is known for trouble. Perhaps you might be thinking to yourself, why is Matthew raising this in his blogsite? What has all this got to do with caring?

Well as you can see by my blog title “A community that cares is a good one”. The thing I am trying to point out is because we focus on caring being a personal and private experience. We make the mistake that caring only exists in small confined spaces. We also tend to think that caring can only be applied to those who are unwell and once that person has recovered, then caring can stop. This again does not take into context the importance of caring.

Caring in itself can be applied to so many things, not just the person in themselves, but to caring about the environment, caring about ourselves as in our own wellbeing, caring for the importance of education and caring for community. Make no mistake I am not saying to care about everything, since we do not care for racism, isolation, blaming others or being a general nuisance to others. It is what we care for that counts.

I am fully aware that caring for others, especially those close to us is not a forgone conclusion, since there are many challenges that needs to be worked upon, especially with the new Health and Care Bill 2021 (see my online carers newsletter for more detail). I urge those who are caring, carer reps and the general public to take interest in such bills because it will affect us all.

Going back to the idea of caring in itself, we must take note that a caring community cherishes the importance of not only strengthening caring for others but in caring overall, where a society brings caring about those close to us towards caring for the good of all of us. This is not a simple tasks and almost seems like a utopia because we all have different aims and agendas and I expect those to clash as people do not often see eye to eye, but not all communities are alike, if we find a bad community, then it cannot be the case ALL communities are bad as some are better off, we cannot also think that it is just down to money and resources, because there are people out there working very hard to bring out the best in their own communities.

What is wrong in wanting to live in a community that will reduce isolation, improve health and wellbeing, easier access to social care, less noise, pollution and anti-social behaviour? All these wants and desires being out the best in ourselves and makes us happier in the long run, but we need to understand this cannot be done without the emphasis on care or our mental wellbeing is at risk.

In the end, we are all responsible.

Carers Rights day 2020

Matthew Mckenzie on Carers Rights

Welcome to my blog site that focuses on mental health carers. What I mean by that is the site raises awareness of carers who are caring for someone suffering mental ill health.

For Carers Rights day 2020. I decided to do a blog post to keep that awareness going. The first website I visited was CarersUK website on Carers Rights day. What I found was really interesting.

Did you know that research released for Carers Rights Day 2020 reveals unpaid carers save UK state £530 million every day of the pandemic?

If you want to see the video version of this blog post then see the video below.

Carers rights day video by Matthew Mckenzie

Although this blog post is a little late for carers rights day, I felt that the event was just too important to miss and I wanted to have my say for carers rights day 2020.

If you already know me, then you know that I am a strong advocator for carers rights.

If you do not know me, then let me introduce myself. My name is Matthew Mckenzie from the borough of Lewisham and I have a blogsite, video channel, carers newsletter, podcasts and now event a book.

I also have a strong social media presence where I advertise my carer’s groups, which has been going many years now. The things that have inspired me to do all the above has been down to caring for my mother who suffered mental illness close to 18 years, but during that time I have worked hard to engage with carers and mental health systems.

Back to carer’s rights day 2020. It is one of the special events that focuses on carers doing the hard work of caring for a loved one either in the family, as a friend or neighbour.

The theme for carers rights day is “Know your rights“. On carer’s rights day, I did a talk at my local carers centre regarding carer’s rights.

Below is a list carers should take note of when pursuing their carer’s rights. If you want to know more in-depth details about Carers Rights, then please watch my video.

Ability to access and improve care for the ‘cared for’ in day-to-day life
Domestic, family, and personal relationships
Carer recognition/support in work, education, training or recreation
Personal dignity (including treatment of the carer with respect)
Physical and mental health & emotional well-being
Protection from abuse & neglect
Social & economic well-being
Suitability of living accommodation
The individual’s contribution to society.

Telling your Carer’s story

Fotolia_73087289_XSHello, everyone, welcome back to another carer blog from former mental health care Matthew Mckenzie.

This time I am writing my book about my caring experiences. The book is soon due for release. I say probably about two weeks time or perhaps the end of next month. I certainly will release it really soon. I have titled my book “A caring mind” but I don’t want to talk too much about the book. The book involves a lot of things and I’ll be doing In more blogs about the book, due to my experiences of being a carer over the years.

This particular blog is about telling your story as a carer.

To watch the video about telling your story as a carer, see below.

One of the chapters in my book is about “my story”, which is chapter two. I also explain the reasons why I took on the caring role for my mother, plus also helping my brothers. I also explain what the things I experienced and I explain a bit about my carer story journey and how it changed over time.

A few things I want to point out is that when you tell your story it shines a spotlight or at least highlights specific issues. If you tell your story as a carer, it’s a way of forming connections to those who are listening to your story, this being other carers.

I find it’s a way of release, when you’re telling your story, especially if your carer’s journey was very difficult. When you just want to tell others “This is what I’ve experienced” or “This is what I’ve gone through” then you’re sharing it with other people.  It might not even be a difficult journey, but it is a way of releasing that out there.

Giving help

There are other main reasons and why it’s important to tell your story as a carer. I think probably the most biggest reason would be that you’re actually educating others. Now, I’ve mentioned before that you would be more likely be telling your story to other carers. In the past when I’ve told my story, and it could be at events or conferences, I found it was a way to educate not only the audience, but within the audience, you could have other carers and pacifically health professionals, those who provided health and support for your loved one or the person you’re caring for. So you’re educating the professionals via health or social care.

Now I’ve looked around as to why it is really important to tell your story as a carer and I’ve come across a report or document released in 2015. It’s came from NHS England website.

And basically the title of this document is “Using stories to improve patient carer, and staff experiences and outcomes” It mentions stories of staff, patient and caring experiences, and journeys through their health system enables NHS to redesign and improve care, according to the patient’s needs are the carer’s needs, where every step of the patient journey is examined and improved.

Reasons to tell your carer’s story

The whole aim of telling your story in some sense would be to improve how the health system works how local authorities provide carer’s support to carers.

When health and social care organisations do events, they want to look into what happened due to a serious incident or a death. They want to improve the approaches or systems regarding complaints or what worked well and what didn’t. They would look at perhaps this is a very good example would be a promotion of service perhaps in a ward or in a GP practice or surgery.

They will display information leaflets on what is happening in a particular service and a good way to promote the service is to have a carer or patient tell their story at that event. But there are many other reasons in using a story to improve the outcomes and redesign or improving health care, health and social care systems.

How you can form your own carer story?

You have to start somewhere. And the aim is to get that story out. Now, what I was told in the past when I was caring for my mom is to perhaps do a journal perhaps everyday if you can, or maybe once a week and how things have been developing because you can look back and look into that journal say, Okay, I tried this, it didn’t work out. It was kind of trying my out caring role and checking what is working.

Embed from Getty Images

When you do a journal, it wasn’t really about to form a story. It was about to keep an eye on if anything goes wrong and you can provide evidence and it can help in writing a doctor’s letter, if there’s a particular issue or symptom that the person you were caring for is suffering, but it can also be used to form your own carers story.

Where can you tell your carer’s story

I want to talk about really where you would want to tell your care story. Now I found the easiest way that I, in the past have told Mark hear his story was probably at NHS carer support groups, because what would happen to your support group is that they would speak to each carer at that group and say you say to them, how things going along for yourself. So I think that’d be an easy way of building up the confidence to tell your story. Another way if you have a fair bit technical knowledge, is there’s no reason why you can’t develop an online video on YouTube.

A good way to tell your story is at events. As in conferences, promotions, especially at mental health trust events. When I was caring for someone using mental health services. My local mental health trust put on carer conferences or carer events, or even mental health events, and they would invite a carer, to tell their story, or even at board meetings, or NHS training courses.

They would invite carers to tell their story and as a way of co-production and getting involved. Another way would be to blog, your story. If you have a website or blog site, there’s no reason why you can’t blog about your carer story. Lastly you could immortalize your story in a book, but be aware that it’s important to have some aspect into confidentiality when you tell your story if the person is still alive or if there’s others involved in that story. Please try and think about confidentiality unless you agree with them that you have to mention them in your book or in your story.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you know, I’ve noticed Carer’s Trust and other major carer’s charity in the UK encourage carers to tell their story. I don’t think even matters even if you’re a carer or former carer, it’s always good to try and tell your story. never tire of telling your story again because it does educate others, and it’s a way of telling others about your identity, your carers identity, and has been a main part of your life.

Young carers awareness day 2020

106542Thanks for stopping by. This is a blog post based on raising more awareness for many young carers around the country. This is that at the time of posting this blog post, it is young carers awareness day. Now I am not a young carer myself, but I did provide care and support to my brothers when I was much younger. They both have autism and every so often I still provide support for my brothers, because being in someones life should be a family commitment.

Young carers awareness day

So whats it all about then? Why the need for young carers awareness day? I mean, aren’t young people not given that support already from somewhere? Is it someone else’s responsibility? Well I will come on to that in a moment, but for now I want to put a spot light on young carers who do their best to care for someone. The main reason I am throwing my chips in on this is that its not common for young carers to write, blog, speak and raise that awareness themselves. Heck! many young carers do not even know they are young carers so they often miss out on support.

Young carers awareness day runs every year and is driven by a national charity called ‘Carers Trust’. Taken from Carers Trust’s website ” For many, their caring journey begins at a much younger age. Caring for someone can be very isolating, worrying and stressful. For young carers, this can negatively impact on their experiences and outcomes in education, having a lasting effect on their life chances.”

Basic CMYK

I touched briefly on the importance of raising awareness for young carers day, but there is much more to it than just raising awareness. Young people even if not caring still struggle in getting support for many things, this is doubled or tripled for young carers who can unfortunately fall through the system. I hope that those in authority take note of young carers awareness day and help make its aim come to life.

Still, we can only learn so much from the idea of young carers awareness, I think a small story can show so much more to the situation young carers face up and down this country.

A small story

Let me tell you a small story, this story is not based on any living person, but the experiences are very real and they are very hard. I would like to warn you this story pulls no punches, but to get the message across, we sometimes have to point out the painful stories.

My story starts with a young boy, so full of energy, wonder and excitement. His life ahead of him as he notices from his friends at school. His name is Sam. A simple young boy and he was well raised by his mother, she cared for him and she loved him. There was never any issue of the close bonds in the family. His mother had recently divorced from her husband, but she fought on and raised their only son.

Embed from Getty Images

It was as if only yesterday, Sam’s mind wandered back to this unfortunately incident. Sam remember he was just around 8 years old, when he came home from school. He suddenly noticed when he got in, the house was so dark, like all the lights were off. Sam called out to his mother, but no reply came from her. Sam remembered that he walked into the kitchen to get something to eat. The family was struggling as many families low in the income gap tend struggle. Sam was just reaching for a plate out of the cupboard and he spotted his mother sitting on the kitchen floor. Sam asked if she was ok, but after a while she responded, but not directly looking at Sam at all. She slowly replied that she was ok.

Sam did not know what else to say, but he then took his mother by the hand and led her to the living room and turned on the TV. His mother slowly sat down on the sofa and then looked at her young son. Her precious only child. Her eyes seem almost empty of life, but she spoke to Sam, she stroked his hair softly and said that she loved him. Sam’s mother watched the TV and sat there for hours. Sam remembered this so well, he was so confused he never saw his mother act like this before. What was wrong? What could he do?

The next day after Sam came from school, everything seemed different. His mother was well again as if nothing happened the day before. She seemed energetic, and she even asked Sam about his day at school. Sam seemed much happier that his mother was more responsive. However when parent evening came about at the local school, Sam’s mother acted rather strangely when speaking to teachers about her son’s progress at school. Sam was with his mother, but Sam’s mother was struggling to concentrate on what the teachers were saying. Sam panicked, because his school friends were watching. Sam could hear the whispers from his friends. “Sam’s mother is a wierdo! Whats wrong with her”?

Embed from Getty Images

The next day at school, Sam could not be bothered to go in. He was too scared, too ashamed what people might say. Why was his mother acting this way? He played truant and just spent time siting in the park, wondering why his life was giving him such a hard time. He just could not understand, but if there was anything to come out of this. He loved his mother dearly.

The next day Sam’s mother was so unwell, she was asking Sam to do more and more around the house. Sam’s mother seemed to lack energy, she just could not do anything for herself. Sam did the best that he could. Yes, for certain days, Sam’s mother was ok, but things seem to be getting worse. Sam’s mother just sat there, as if not to care. She could not often dress herself, wash and instead Sam slowly took over. He asked his mother if she needed help and he started to cook, shop and clean. All this began taking its toil as Sam’s school work began to suffer.

The school was sending reports to Sam’s mother and soon a phone call came, Sam remembered this as if it was yesterday. He remember how his mother was pleading and saying that she is ok and that there was no problem. Sam wondered why his mother was upset and who she was speaking to over the phone.

Eventually days turned into weeks, weeks to months and then to years. Sam got older, from aged 9…10 and 11. Sam never gave up, he got older, tougher, wiser and even then after all the bullying, insults, stigma and tireless work. He continue supporting his mother. When someone at school asked if he was a carer, Sam did not know what this meant. He just loved his mother, thats all what he wanted.

Sam is now 22 years old. He is sitting in the street watching the people go by, oblivious to Sam’s plight. Sam does not hear much from his mother anymore. His mother has changed and it seemed she has succumbed to something. Sam’s mother can hardly speak much and when she does, its like a mumble, it does not make sense. A cold tear drops from Sam’s face, he wonders what he has missed out on in his life.

“God damn this world!” Sam thinks, as he sits on the floor struggling with his on mental health. “My mother, my life….whats next?”

Embed from Getty Images

Sam begins to finally know what a young carer is….unfortunately for Sam it has come to late and perhaps he is just another statistic among many young carers.

What can we learn from this story?

I hope you found my small story eye opening. I know the story was not meant to be easy, but I know somewhere out there, there are many Sam’s who feel bitter about their situation. What can we learn from this story? We can learn quite a few things.

  • Sam had to grow up very quickly.
  • Sam’s mother certainly had mental illness, but no one knew the diagnoses
  • Sam took on the role of caring for his mother, even when he was not sure how to care for himself.
  • Sam’s own roles and duties suffered, especially his education
  • Sam lost many of his friends, as children they could not understand Sam’s plight….it was all a game.
  • What ever affected the family, eventually affected Sam’s future. Sam felt bitter about things as he feel into the grey area of carer support through his late teens.
  • Sam’s mother was terrified of social services. She felt they would take Sam away from her, Sam’s mother just needed that extra support, but many social workers had been moved on. There was now a lack of them, since heavy and sustained cuts removed important support for Sam’s family.
  • The health service seemed missing from this story, health support not only for Sam’s mother, but for Sam himself as depression, stress and anxiety slowly crept into Sams experience.  Sam did not feel empowered about his experiences.

So then. What next? Who is picking up the pieces? We are, but we have Carers Trust. A national charity fighting so hard to speak for young carers and engaging with young carers to speak for themselves. If nothing is done, young carers pay that heavy price. Young carers lose out on what many young children and young people take for granted. Young carers lose their enjoyment in life, they cannot be children anymore and have no time to play, have fun and feel part of the community.

I have noticed many carer centre’s run young carer groups and I see how happy young carers feel connected to other young carers at these groups. Still, Carers Trust is a charity as many of the carer centres are charities. We spend a lot of time banging that drum for awareness, funding and activism. Carers Trust need more to help with awareness and help with young carers.

A small warning.

I am not sure if there was a theme for young carers awareness day, I am sure there is, but I have just come back from an exciting Triangle of Care working group over at West London MH trust. I am writing this so quickly I hope there are not too many typos and I hope my blog post makes sense.

There is just one thing I would like to say. This blog post is just a warning. We must act now to protect the next generation as social care has a mountain to climb. Whoever is reading my post and is in a position to make a change, however small. We must reduce the situation faced by many young carers across the country. So that we do not have to see more stories of Sam and how his life turned out.

God bless you all and good luck on your carers journey, however young you are.

Carer traits and characteristics

Finger art of a Happy couple. The concept of couple laughing.Welcome back, Its not long until “Carers Rights day”, which takes place on the 21st of November. I am sure to do a blog and maybe a video about it, but still it is a couple of weeks away, but keep a look out for local carer events in the meantime. This particular blog is on carer character traits.

Basically when people think about unpaid carers, they often think that the person is just caring for someone. In a way there are correct, but delve a little deeper and they could be off target. There is a whole lot more to a carers world than what people might think.

So I have decided to list and briefly explain some unpaid character traits, this blog is aimed not only at health professionals, but carers themselves who might wish to understand what they might find helpful on their carers journey.

Please take take note, not all unpaid carers are the same and due to trying to keep the blog post short, I have missed out a lot of carer character traits and skills.

Providing a simple hug.

Not all carers do this, it really depends on the relationship with the ‘cared for’. Some unpaid carers are very close to the person suffering either mental or physical ill health, but giving a simple hug to that person can help more than any words can say.

Authenticity

Just caring for someone shows that you are wearing the badge, you are wearing the carer’s badge and no one can say you have not been there. If asked to speak about your carers journey, then you will understand. An unpaid carers journey can be difficult, full of tension and a roller coaster ride. As a carer you can expect to take some massive blows, but at the same time you are growing stronger in your cause.

real

Being a shoulder to cry on (very difficult)

Not always easy especially if the ‘cared for’ is distant from you, but as a carer you can always be there as a shoulder to cry on. There will be times that the ‘cared for’ will be let down by everyone, be it friends, health systems and so on. If you are close to the ‘cared for’, just being a carer will give them the opportunity to be the last person they can cry to.

shoulder to cy

Being Present (most important!!)

The most important trait of an unpaid carer. There are only a few other ways to care, but being there is the ultimate role of a carer. Some people have big families, but not everyone in that family is going to equally care for the ‘cared for’. Sometimes the carer is the one who will sacrifice or put on hold their life to provide that much needed support. A carer will be there at hospital appointments, doctors appointments, care plan assessments, benefit assessments, they will provide medication or chase things up and more. Being there for the ‘cared for’ is what it takes to be a carer.

Being there when times are tough (difficult)

Being there is NOT enough, its when the chips are down that the true worth of being a carer is on the line. Its no good providing support when the crisis is over, but I am aware that carers cannot be around the person all the time. I am also aware that it is not a criticism of carers who tried so hard, but were pushed away, especially mental health carers. Still, there will be times when the impossible may be asked of you, as a carer you will need to be there especially when there is a crisis.

being there

Believing

There are not many rule books on being a carer, there has been times when I am thinking to myself am I doing the right thing, because no one can really tell you that you are living your life the best way. There were times my ‘cared for’ hit crisis after crisis and I was banging my head against a brick way with all the bureaucracy, confidentiality and red tape. I was even dealing with bullying from NHS staff siding with the ‘cared for’s’ criticism of me and to be frank, I was on my own. The keyword is ‘Belief’, you as a carer might have to dig down and start believing in yourself. What are you caring for? What are you fighting for? What are the costs? The sacrifices? Is it all your fault? Sometimes only you can answer those questions.

Compassion

Very close to being there as a carer, you will need to show compassion, patience and to be kind. It is not easy to do if you are under stress or constant pressure, being compassionate can even extend to others if you practice being compassionate to the person you care for. If you lack compassion, then you could do damage to the relationship.

compassion-clipart-1

Confidentiality (Can be very difficult)

Sometimes carers have to be confidential about who they care for, but most times a carer will have to deal with confidentiality. It is frustrating because in the end it will be you that providing the carer and support, but how can you do your role if no one is saying what to expect for the ‘cared for’. Its like they are saying ‘Just get on with it’, when the patient is discharged into your care. I have noticed a culture where health professionals state the ‘cared for’ is discharged to the social worker’s care or the care coordinator’s care, but what happens they move on from their jobs or leave? The carer is the constant person in that role and should never be pushed aside or forgotten. Learn how confidentiality works, especially when Carer’s Rights Day takes place on the 21st of November.

confidentiality-clipart-confidentiality

Connection

Being a connection to someone is not easy at all. It depends how close you are to the ‘cared for’. Sometimes a carer is just a person in name and role, but being a connection to someone is highly psychology. There are whole books on the subject on connecting to others and the subject is also one of the ‘5 ways of wellbeing’.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/

It is not always easy connecting to someone who is unwell, but it can benefit yourself as well as the ‘cared for’.

Empathy

Similar to compassion, Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what the ‘cared for’ is experiencing. This is why many carers try hard to work out what the situation is, so that they can provide adequate support and care. Without empathy then you are making guess work, but sometimes it is not always the carers fault. If unpaid carers are pushed out due to confidentiality or not involved, it is difficult to understand what the person is going through, especially if its mental health. Remember, if the health professional is not always present and the ‘cared for’ is very unwell, then it is usually up to the unpaid carer be it friend, neighbour or relation.

Helping (knowing when to help and how)

Sometimes caring is a grey area, there is more to caring than just helping with physical or mental health support. It is also being around to help, this might be arranging meetings, advocating, helping the health professional, helping with money situations and so on.

Super Dad Juggling

Hope (Very common among carers)

Without this trait, you might even want to give up on caring for someone, there should be some form of hope that the ‘cared for’ will recover or at least live with the illness. Sometimes unfortunately there is no recovery, so all you can hope for is to be a witness to the person’s suffering, but deep down inside all unpaid carers hope for some change.

Love (most common thing among carers)

Another common trait with all unpaid carers. You care because you love the person or are emotionally tied to them. Love is a vague word, but without some form of love, it is difficult to care for someone let alone care for anything. Sometimes people overlook the love between carer and ‘cared for’, but it is there. Even if the carer had to walk away from their role, this still could be done out of love and when things really go wrong, then love hurts.

love_is_on_the_air_311635

Loyalty

Very difficult for carers to do, but being loyal to the ‘cared for’ can be an important trait, but what happens when the ‘cared for’ refuses help? When does the question of being loyal become a risk? This is when carers need to break confidentiality and raise the issue if the ‘cared for’ is at severe risk. E.g. reporting to the doctor, social worker or another professional.

Open and loving friends

Not really a carer trait, but something a carer would find helpful. Unfortunately, friends tend to go off packing when having to deal with a carer fighting something depressing. It does not help that carers due to their role will lack a social life, so it is harder to make new friends, but if you are lucky to have friends around who are open and understanding, it can help you in your carer journey.

download

Openness.

A risky trait, but expect to use it sometimes. As a carer you will have to be honest about a situation, you might expect to be put between a wall and a hard place. Basically when the ‘cared for’ is refusing help, you will have to raise the call for help, even against the ‘cared for’ wishes. A carer will have to be truthful and open about what is going wrong and expect your relationship with the ‘cared for’ to decline, but think to yourself, what is the risk? You might be thankful one day that you were open and honest about something. Expect the relationship to be slow to build back up again, if ever.

Phone call to check on how someone is

As a carer, it helps to use many tools in your carer’s journey, this is often used if your a distant carer (someone caring from a distance). Even if the ‘cared for’ is not in crisis, a carer might call to see how things are, you might never know what the ‘cared for’ might say. Take note, that with the advent of smart phones, it might help to add the person on Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook or other applications.

girl-talking-clipart-28

Quality time

Sometimes it is not always about care, care and caring. Spending quality time with the person can help make a difference. Think of it this way, what was the person like before they became unwell? Your relationship might have changed somewhat, but deep down they are still that same person. Sometimes spending quality time is what is needed and expect to do this as a carer to help connect with them.

Safety (common among carers)

Did I say common among carers? It probably is the number one rule book for unpaid carers. You might think providing a safe space for the ‘cared for’ is all that it is, but that is not the full story. Ever heard of the consequences when things go wrong in the health system? Carers will sometimes protect the ‘cared for’ especially when serious incidents will occur, think of wrong medications provided, or wrong decisions putting the ‘cared for’ at risk. Then it can be a tug of war when the carer has to push for the ‘cared for’ to get that support from the health and social care system. Overall the carer will have to be a shield for many things and expect to take some blows.

bear and bunny

Show up physically and mentally

Not the same as being there, expect to take on health and social care settings. Sometimes you as a carer might think some things are being done as a tick box, well you could be right. As a carer you will have to deal with the following professionals.

  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Nurses (different Bands)
  • Mental Health Counselor (families)
  • Social Worker
  • Care Coordinator
  • Ward Pharmacist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Ward Manager
  • Admin for services
  • GP
  • Peer Specialists
  • Advocates
  • PALs Team
  • Home Treatment team staff

Yep! and this is only the HALF of it. So as a carer how would you prepare in an important meeting, if you are not sure what that person does or if the professional is being difficult? Well, I am sure at some point I will blog about engaging with professionals, but as a carer, do not expect the ‘cared for’ will do the legwork.

Smiling or trying to

As a carer you don’t have to do this, in fact it is better to seek support if you are feeling down rather than pretend and put on a false smile. It does obviously help to keep one’s spirits up, but be honest with your wellbeing and reach out for support for yourself as well.

face

Someone to really listen (listening skills)

This is very important for unpaid carers. If the ‘cared for’ has no one to talk to then expect to listen and avoid saying much or criticism. This is not something easy to do, because it depends on your relationship to the ‘cared for’. There has been times I have had to listen because the person I care for ended up ranting due to being unhappy with how she was treated. It was just because there was no one she would trust to rant to instead, not even the Samaritans. In the end, I just kept quiet and listened, then walked away hoping that her complaining helped in some way. As a carer, expect to listen, but also expect to learn some listening skills.

Time alone (Important!!)

It is so important that you as a carer get time alone for yourself, it might be for recharging your energies, thinking things through or just relaxing. This is probably because a carer has to go through a lot, especially all the things that can play on the carer’s mind. If a carer cannot get time alone, then they could themselves become the next patient.

me times

Trust (Very common)

In health professional we trust! As carers you will need to put your trust in professionals because you cannot do everything yourself. You will have to hope and trust that your doctor will involve you in the ‘cared for’ situation. If that does not work, then pray the doctor is skilled in being diplomatic enough to remind the patient why they need support from those close to them. Sometimes doctors tend to take the easy way out and let the patient’s word be law, but life is not always as simple as that, why? Think about the serious incidents when the carers or public were right about someone being at risk and the health professionals were wrong. It does happen and unfortunately it won’t be the last, but until then the carer will have to trust in others and trust the ‘cared for’ will seek support.

Words of encouragement (what words to use)

Expect as a carer to encourage the ‘cared for’ to not give up hope. The carer will need to be skilled in being supportive with words and not only just in listening skills. In fact a carer may end up becoming some form of counselling for the ‘cared for’, but only if support structures are lacking.

images

The conclusion.

Unfortunately these are just some of the carer’s traits in the carers journey. The carers world can be a difficult long struggle, but it can also be rewarding as you share the ‘cared for’ life successes, hopes, dreams and struggles. It need not be unbearable tough if you learn as much as you can on what it means to be a carer.

Good luck in your caring journey.

Fotolia_73087289_XS

Being part of something

106542Hey there! Welcome to another new blog from unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. I have just come back from the Carers UK Conference 2019. As a carer I was inspired on how the event went and felt part of something. I felt part something very big and felt I should write up a couple of my thoughts on this post.

I had shared a panel session at the Carers UK conference and due to limited time, I could not manage to say all what I would have liked, however I felt I got the main messages out there to the audience. I wish this particular blog post carries on my message to other unpaid carers who stumble across this blog post.

This message is to you…fellow carer.

Continue reading