If you are looking after someone, no one ever said we had to do this alone. Creating a support network can be key to building resilience and setting things up to be sustainable.
Having a support network and being part of a community are 2 of the "secrets of resilient caring" but don't just take my word for it, Dr Warren Donnellan talks about this in an early report from our research study too.
Here are the 5 steps recommend by our community of carers:
1. Accept it!
Admitting we all probably need a support network, rather than waiting until we need it. In a crisis or when feeling really low can be the hardest time to build our support networks
“Be strong enough to let people know you need help”
2. Create your dream team
Being able to spread the load and having a variety of people with different things to offer might be right for some of us. Or perhaps we prefer to rely on a small, tighter network (quality not quantity). There are no right answers here just what works for each of us. Take a look at the list of ideas from our community of carers:
Your GP and the GP of the person you are caring for)
Healthcare professionals, including for example the hospital discharge team and carer support.
Someone who listens to you well
Someone who likes cooking - a meal dropped off when you are super busy means you get to eat and someone is popping by too
Neighbours - those that live nearest to you might be the best people to step in when there’s an emergency or for quick local things. This is also a good way to build community
People who have done this before will be great for tips & info as well as those all important understanding nods (This is what our Mobilise Virtual Cuppas for Carers are all about)
Those that will take the time to get things right - some people are well meaning but might irritate you when they buy the wrong cheese (for example)
“Look beyond the people you might expect - be prepared to be surprised”
3. Start using them
Tell them what you need, accept help when it is offered, have a conversation, let them know how things are - they might suggest help that we hadn’t considered as an option.
“Be honest about how things are”
4. Get organised
Having a handy list of numbers to call in an emergency can make it easy for you and your support network to help out. Read this blog to find out more (there's a free template to start your emergency number list) Or go one better and create an emergency plan and share it with those that need to know - We’ve got a blog and a template for this too!
5. Enjoy the “Feel Good Factor”
You can be part of other’s support networks - we all feel more comfortable when we get to help out too. Recognise when you’ve helped someone out, you might think nothing of this - but if you enjoyed it, or found it really easy - perhaps that is how it is for those that help you.
Don’t forget to say thank you too. A text, a note, chocolate, wine, flowers...and, when we are allowed, a hug will add to the feeling of joy for everyone involved.