With shocking stories hitting the headlines around our Social Care Crisis and carers being on their knees, we thought it was important to spend some time looking at how resilient we each are, and how we can build more resilience into our own situations.
We've been questioning;
"What is the difference between us, and the families in these stories?"
"How many steps separate us from them?"
"What stops us falling off the 'edge'?"
Before you read on, if you feel that you are already at breaking point, crisis point or beyond, please pause and book an individual support call with Suzanne, our wonderful head of carer support.
What is Resilience?
Resilience can look like many things. But essentially, it's those things that keep us safe, protected and ticking over.
It's the presence or lack of those things around us, that makes the difference between resilience and being at risk.
Dr Warren Donnellan at The University of Liverpool has led research into carer resilience, and this chart is a really helpful way to create a snapshot of the resilience we have in each of these areas - Individual (our own physical resilience), Community (the people around us) and Society (policy, support services).
What does resilience look like for me?
How resilient are you? Are you physically fit? Are you emotionally well? The answers to these questions, may or may not make an inspiring read.
But they're valuable questions to ask. Some things are 'fixable', once we're aware of them.
For me - I know that whilst I'm 'relatively young' and 'relatively fit', I have a weak back. I have a daughter approaching puberty, whose care needs get more challenging with age. I'm well aware that my weak back reduces my ongoing resilience to keep caring for her.
Knowing this is valuable. I've started swimming each week and doing daily muscle strengthening exercises. I'll never be Arnold Schwarzenegger but, I am building my physical resilience.
Looking at our own age, physical health, mental wellbeing, gender, ethnicity, habits and behaviours - which (if any) may pose a risk to our resilience? And which of those, are 'fixable'?
What 'people' based support do you have around you? Are you a single parent? Do you have a friendly neighbour checking in? Do you have your 'tribe' e.g. other carers in a similar 'boat'! Like our wonderful Mobilise Community!
Which people offer you practical support? Which people provide emotional support?
What kind of support do you want and are you getting it?
What support are you currently getting and would struggle without? Have you discussed what would happen if a certain person couldn't help you any longer?
What gaps are there? How can you fill them?
If you want help talking this through, booking a call with our head of carer support, Suzanne, is a great first step.
Questions we might want to ask ourselves include: Are we getting support from a social worker? If not - would we benefit from a social worker? Are you a member of a great local support club or charity. Are we accessing all of the support and benefits we are entitled to in our carers' role?
If you're working or returning to work, you might want to read our blog for some guidance on how to navigate this successfully.
What is in our Resilience Tool Kit?
This will be a list of those things that when present, keep us ticking over and which without, we may feel at risk. It's an overhaul of the above areas, answers to those questions and the solutions you put in place, wherever possible.
We've asked our community what is in their Resilience toolkit:
"I have a month's rent squirrelled away"
"My 'What If' plan will make life much much easier if I fall ill - it forced me to have lots of chats and agree what would happen between the people in my support network."
"I have a week of cooked meals frozen. It's one less thing to panic about in a bad week."
"I felt amazing once I sorted out power of attorney."
"For me, it's keeping in touch with specific people regularly so they know how things are (friends, family, support organisations)."
"Having my affairs in place, with paperwork up to date, easily accessible and easy to hand over. This has been a massive peace of mind."
"I felt better for having my emergency plan in place, with contact numbers and info up to date."
"My mum batch cooks some meals for my daughter (who has a special diet) - it takes such a lot of pressure off of me. She is definitely in my resilience tool kit!"
The advice from our community is to 'do it now'. Don't wait until we're in 'crisis'.
Yes, it can be scary looking at all of this - but it's far less scary than hitting crisis point, without a plan, and in fact - the likelihood of hitting 'crisis point' is much reduced by building this resilience toolkit upfront.
Our toolkits will buffer us from crisis whilst also smoothing the edges of a crisis point if we end up there.
Let's proactively build up our resilience, and put distance between us and crisis point.
What other tips would you add to our growing blog? Do not hesitate to let us know.