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A carers' guide to getting out and about

As lockdown restriction eases, many of us may feel a bit differently about getting out and about. We may be more cautious and prepared (with our face masks and hand sanitisers) for our outings. And perhaps there are some specific barriers to overcome. What we know for sure from carers that have started to enjoy the new freedoms is that it's definitely worth the effort.

We asked carers in the Mobilise community what challenges they were facing, and more importantly what solutions they had found.

Keep up to date

Guidelines are being updated more frequently now and differ depending on what country we are in. We don't have to go at the same pace. We can take time to make our own decisions and we might need to tell others what we think so they understand why we aren't accepting invitations or, that we might be keener to get out and meet up than we were before.

This Government page has links for the most recent updates for all 4 nations.

Get tested

We can simply order free Covid-19 lateral flow tests here. For additional protection for ourselves and those we are meeting, we can carry out these self-administered tests before we leave the house. And ask those we are meeting with to do the same.

Vaccination and boosters for unpaid carers

Many of us have already had our first and second vaccination. Don’t forget as unpaid carers we are in Priority Group 6 and so can book our vaccine now if we haven’t already had it. Read our carer's guide which breaks down where we can get our vaccines and boosters here.

Small steps

As with all change small, forward steps can make it easier to manage. We might even find ourselves looking forward to simple pleasures.

"I find doing one or two things in a week to mark increased freedom helps, if it’s possible..."

A few small step ideas from the community:

  • A takeaway coffee on a park bench, maybe with a friend

  • A short doorstep chat

  • A wander around a spacious garden centre or open air market

  • Shopping in a smaller, local shop - just buy a few items

  • Shopping at non peak times

  • A trip to the seaside might be quite a mission, is there a patch of grass, open sky or water that is nearer?

  • A mini picnic

  • Join an outdoor exercise session or a walk and chat group

  • A trip to the zoo, farm or other outdoor attraction

Still not keen to do supermarkets. Still shopping online but it’s lonely.

Just popping to the loo!

For many of us this isn't easy at the best of times but there are a few things that could help.

The Bladder and Bowel Community can provide a free “Just Can’t Wait” digital card that can be downloaded onto phones and discreetly shown so that access can be given to toilets. There is a plastic version available for £1.99 too.

"Our challenge now we're allowed out again, is the same as before - access to toilets. When you care for someone with full personal care, finding a suitable toilet is quite an event. And typically we need to find one quickly."

Changing Places toilets provide safe, comfortable accessible facilities. We can find out more and check if these are available at places we are planning to visit using ToiletMap.

Mobiloo is an attended mobile toilet service with hoist and changing bench. If we're planning on attending an event we can check with the organiser to see if they are providing this service. We can also see events that they have been booked for.

A radar key is cheap, easy to order and provides access to those locked disabled toilets you may have seen around. They're easy to order from Amazon.

Hidden Disabilities

If we, or someone we care for, has a hidden disability it can be hard to explain why we might need help or that communication might not be easy.

The sunflower lanyard is becoming more widely recognised as a way of showing we might need support, understanding or patience. A card can be added to explain more, including a number of icons that are becoming more widely recognised. They can be bought online or in bigger retailers.

Free PPE

Providing personal care to someone in another household? Equipment like aprons, mask and gloves (PPE) is now provided free of charge to unpaid carers. We can simply contact our local council to find out more.

Feeling trapped?

Many of us are finding it hard to get out as we can’t leave loved ones alone and taking them out adds to the challenges and complications. Now might be the time to start planning ahead. Some carers from our community suggested arranging for a friend to come and sit with them in the garden for a short time to make a short trip out possible.

"A change of 4 walls for even a couple of hours helps to break the negativity cycle"

If we are feeling that we might never be able to get out of the house again or that we are being left behind it might be time to start thinking about further support. Our first steps for getting help and support with our caring roles blog might be a good place to start.

Things sometimes take a while to set up so starting now is the perfect time to start. In the meantime our carers' guide to getting stuff done without leaving the house blog might have some helpful tips.

Something for the wishlist

"Bought a camper van for holidays but find it’s really good for days out as we have a flushable loo and running water for handwashing. A day out at national trust now can last all day using our van as a base. Freedom!"

Perhaps borrowing one or hiring one might be an option too?

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