We work with a range of carers, in all circumstances. Here we discover how carer coaching helped a carer deal Jamie (not real name), a devoted son, had been the sole caregiver for his mother, who was battling and living with both dementia and lung disease. With no family nearby and no one else to turn to for help, Jamie’s life was entirely dedicated to his mother’s care.
Despite the overwhelming responsibility, Jamie found solace in planning and contingency, the lifeline that allowed him to find moments of respite and support. Jamie has therefore kindly shared his experiences to help others.with a variety of carer responsibilities and changed the way they reacted to stress.
Jamie had been planning a three-night trip to visit a friend in Manchester. He meticulously arranged for paid carers from a local agency and family member (a cousin) to cover his mother’s care during his absence. However, he was made aware on the day that paid cover was no longer available on one of the nights. After discussing with his mum, she was adamant that she would be fine during that one night. Jamie was unsure about this, but as his mum was so adamant, he thought it would be fine. He had after all created a timetable, wrote down emergency contacts, ensured the emergency pendant was working correctly and shared the plans with his mother. However, as the day of his trip neared, his mother became anxious about being left alone overnight, causing a delay in his departure.
Reflecting on this, Jamie explained how after this trip, he realised that often as a carer it’s not always about the plan itself, but about those who you can rely on. It’s simply not possible to plan for every scenario, but if you have an established arrangement plan of people or services you could rely on, it will help you to handle unexpected situations without feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, after years of caring for his mother and learning the significance of advance planning, Jamie offers three essential tips for fellow carers:
- Manage Expectations: Manage your own expectations and be clear about the support you need in an emergency. People often won’t offer to help as they may think you want to rely on them regularly. It’s therefore important to set clear boundaries about when their support may be needed. For example, if asking a neighbour to be a part of your contingency plan, what is considered an emergency rather than ad hoc support?
- Have a range of options: It’s great if you have the same agency staff or friends and family providing support, but it’s good to have different options, so consider registering with more than one service if using paid carers and think about other friends or family you could include in your contingency plan. For Jamie, this was not just about his own network, but his mother’s too (i.e., friends from her local Church group). So, think about those trusted individuals and ask them if they are happy to be included as part of your contingency plan (if you don’t ask you won’t know!) and ensure they have all the necessary details.
- Use technology to your advantage: Set up safety apps, check-in camera systems, personal alarms, or automated notifications to alert yourself, designated contacts, and/or local authorities in case of emergencies. The more people that are alerted during an emergency, the quicker appropriate help can be arranged.
If you would like to plan for the unexpected, please read more about contingency planning here, which includes a template download.
You can also sign up for a carer emergency contact card – read more about this here.