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Carer Story – Sue

We work with a range of carers, in all circumstances. Here we discover how carer coaching helped a carer deal with a variety of carer responsibilities and changed the way they reacted to stress.

Caring situation

Sue is 70 years old, primarily caring for her 70-year-old husband with a diagnosis of ‘Stiff persons syndrome’. There are also some caring responsibilities for Sue’s younger sister, Cathy, who at 57 is a wheelchair user due to the long-term conditions Fibromyalgia, arthritis, degenerative disk disease. Cathy also has a high BMI and lived with mental health issues in the past. Sue and Cathy were joint carers for their mother, who was elderly frail, blind and became deaf, mum lived in an assisted living flat until she passed away.

Added pressures

Not only did Sue have to cope with the grief of losing her Mum, which hit her harder than she expected, she was the executor of the Will. And to add another level of pressure, questions were raised around appropriate care being provided for mum, by the paid carers immediately before she passed away, which prompted an inquest. Sue was responsible for writing a report about the sequence of events leading up to her mum’s passing.

At the same time, Cathy received the diagnosis of breast cancer, and with imminent surgery needed. Sue helped with medical appointments and relevant paperwork which included “Respect Forms” and discussing DNAR agreements. All very emotionally challenging topics.

Understandably, Sue was feeling overwhelmed and becoming stressed.

Turning point

Sue needed to find a way to cope with all that life was throwing at her. So, Sue signed up to take part in the Managing stress Carer coaching program, which involved four, two hour, bi-weekly sessions.

Coaching experience

The sessions gave Sue the opportunity to set some personal goals and review how she approached things. The course looked at various techniques to improve self-worth and coping strategies. For example, reflecting on previous positive achievements has built assertiveness. Learning to break down tasks into smaller steps directly helped with the report writing. Sue learnt breathing exercises to help foster calmness.

Biggest outcomes

There were plenty of positive take aways from the coaching programme, as mentioned. However, perhaps the biggest outcome was Sue’s ability to change the way she reacted to stress. This is a mechanism which can be applied to all areas of life.

Sue and the other carers in the group have remained in touch and support each other through a WhatsApp group.