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A carer’s guide to preparedness

Whether it’s for a daily task, a specific event or part of a routine, many of us have developed different ways to be prepared.

Illustration of a woman in a wheelchair, chatting to a man holding his phone.

During our online cuppa, we explored the topic of 'preparedness' and were amazed at just how many different ways we prepare so we decided to look into it a little more.



Getting things organised

We reached out to carers in the Mobilise Hub to find out how they prepare too. Here is what we have come up with! 


1. Batch cooking, ready meals and meal plans

Whether we cook extra or add microwaveable meals to our shopping list, having easy meals in the freezer can help us to save time when things are busy or we don’t have the energy to cook. 


2. Medication trays and charts

Having a system in place to manage medications helps some feel like there is “one less thing to think about”. Medication trays can also help you keep on top of when things are about to run out so that you can get them in advance.


For example, we can set time aside each week to count out every tablet for the next seven days. Noting the number of tablets left to ensure that we are never without a full week's worth.


Some people manage medication using dossete boxes. These plastic boxes can be bought (or supplied by a pharmacist) which detail when each medication should be taken. These can help people manage their medication and can help if it’s hard not to forget tablets.



3. A Go Bag

Go bags are a great tool for when we need to be on the move quickly and need to have everything all in one place. Some people have 'Go bags' for when they need to act in an emergency and prepare for an overnight stay like clothes, toiletries, and money for parking for example. It’s essentially a ‘just in case’.


However, they are also really useful for day-to-day stuff, like shopping. A Shopping Go bag might include a mask, sanitiser, wipes, gloves, and bags. They are really handy for ensuring we have everything we need when we need it. 


4. Resting in advance

For some of us, we know that we need to be well-rested to tackle certain situations and we may not get the rest we need at the time. Resting before the event where possible can help us approach it in the best mindset possible. As carers, we can face many draining interactions with GPs, social workers, the bank, medical teams and more so it's helpful to know some of the ways we can cope with this.


5. Writing it down

Lists are hugely popular in the Mobilise Hub! Lists help us to organise our thoughts and break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. To-do lists, in particular, can be great for boosting motivation as we tick each task off, as long as we include what is necessary and manageable.


Everyone approaches lists differently; some people have one list, others have a daily and long-term list, and a few have a book of lists! 


Need some more carer admin tips? We've got eight covered here.


6. A folder of information 

Having important information written down somewhere is a valuable time-saving tool if we ever need to hand it over to someone else. Whilst it is time-consuming to start, having this prepared ensures that all the information is shared in one place and can save us a huge amount of time long term.


We can choose to have a physical folder with different compartment labels or a digital folder on our phones.


"I use my mum's phone to screenshot things that need keeping record of and have created her an album so it's easy to find. I also keep more important notes in the notes section of the Iphone and have added a password to the 'Appointments' folder I created".

This is a useful resource if a regular thing and can support our ‘Emergency Plan’ in the case of an emergency. 


7. Journals and a 'tomorrow' notebook

This lovely idea was suggested on social media as a way to record what has happened each day and to help look forward to what is coming up tomorrow.


By thinking about tomorrow, we can begin to prepare for the day ahead. It also helps to take some mental weight off our shoulders the following day.


Some of the things we can include in a 'tomorrow' notebook include:


  1. Date: Start each page with the date to keep track of what we've done and when.

  2. To-do list: Write down three things we need to accomplish tomorrow. It can be tempting to jot down more than three but think about what will happen tomorrow if we don't do these top three.

  3. Schedule: Create a schedule or timeline for our day, allocating specific time slots for each task or activity. It could be appointments, ordering prescriptions, shopping or pick ups.

  4. Reminders: Jot down important reminders or deadlines we need to remember for tomorrow.

  5. Reflections: Leave space for reflections at the end of the day to reflect on how the day went. Is there something that went surprisingly well or something that could've been done better?


Illustration of a calendar.

8. Rotas, timetables and planners

Visual guides like Excel sheets and colour-coded planners are a great way to note down the details of upcoming plans or long term routines.


One member of the community shared that they use an Excel sheet to record their rota which they share with their siblings.


Other creative ways we can keep up with the days is by using a mini whiteboard, a calendar with colour-coded stickers, or sticking something up on our fridge where we can see it.


9. Getting into a routine

Asking ourselves, “What am I going to do tomorrow?”


Sometimes, we don’t have time to carefully plan the whole week out in a notebook. But just take a moment to think about “What am I going to do tomorrow?”. This can help to get into the right mindset and focus our attention on the next thing. Small steps count.


10. Going through the motions in advance

Going through the motions helps to prepare for an upcoming event by establishing a routine in advance. It means that we can have a few ‘test runs’ before the day of the event and overcome any unexpected challenges that might arise.


It also helps to increase confidence and it has been achieved before the event itself. We don't have to 'test run' these alone, perhaps a family or friend that can help us, and guide us along.


11. Adding in rewards

We can sometimes forget that preparation is a task in itself.


Adding rewards like a coffee break, a sweet treat, or a moment for ourselves can make it easier for us to keep moving forward. Carers in our community share the little "time-outs" or micro-respite ideas that help them momentarily reset.


"A solo coffee with some calming music in my fave independent cafe."
"The only time I get to relax is taking the dog for a walk and have a chat with other dog walkers while my husband is asleep"

12. Remembering the important stuff

Writing dates on a whiteboard for upcoming hospital appointments or day trips is a useful way to have an overview of everything coming up on one page.


This helps everyone involved to remember the dates rather than just one person. It is also incredibly satisfying to simply wipe it off and it 'be gone', not just ticked off or scribbled out. 


If we don't live with the person we care for, we might want to start a group chat on WhatsApp or iMessage to encourage everyone to remember the important dates all at once.


Illustration of an alarm clock.

13. Reminders and alarms

Phones are great for setting alerts to help us keep to specific time schedules! Waking up, taking medications and meal planning are just a few ways that reminders can be beneficial.


"Take everything one step at a time."

In addition to our phones, we can also use smart voice-enabled devices such as Alexa and Google to help us with reminders. If we're considering these, our guide breaks down the pros and cons of having one, plus how carers in the community are using it around their homes.


"I really like Alexa; we have one in just about every room. I use it for routine reminders, day date prompts, lists, to operate my linked devices, to view my cameras, to display photographs, listen to the radio or music and to help with cooking."

Why should we prepare? 

Preparation is a great way for us to take control of the things we can manage and it provides a level of certainty even if the thing we are preparing for is not certain. This helpful resource talks about preparation as a valuable mechanism for controlling what can be controlled as a way to support our mental wellbeing.


It can also have great benefits for our mindset as certain tasks being done the night before can help us feel like there is one less thing to worry about. For example, packing school bags and preparing lunches the night before can save precious time before the morning school run.


This extra time can make it a much less stressful experience as there is less need to rush to get everything done. 

What about the emotional load?

Physical preparation helps us to think about how we emotionally prepare for what’s ahead. The emotional preparation is important since it impacts our mindset, approach, energy, and our stress or anxiety levels. We don’t always need to prepare a positive mindset. Sometimes it might require a mindset that we set which is best for this purpose.


Helpful questions to help us prepare for the day

1. What emotional state will help me today?

2. What situations might trip me up? 

3. How can I best manage those moments? 

4. What will a "successful" day look like?


Reflection

Whilst this is not strictly about how to prepare, it is important to recognise all that we have achieved with those preparatory tasks. 


Taking a moment to reflect allows a moment for us to ask ourselves, “What have we done today?”. This simple question encourages us to acknowledge those day-to-day or weekly tasks we do without even thinking about them. They can be time and energy-consuming so acknowledging them is important for our motivation and sense of job satisfaction. 



How do we prepare to prepare? 

There are so many little things we can do to prepare ourselves for any preparation task.

  • Take a two-minute pause for ourselves

  • Block out five or 10 minutes for preparation time and eliminate any distractions

  • If things come to mind in the day, jot down the things we have to prepare on our phones

  • Be intentional about taking a break, it could be a five-minute break every 20 minutes

  • Think about how we can shift our perspectives so we think positively about the things we want to do or achieve that day

  • Talk to someone about things that need preparing so they can hold us accountable (we're more likely to remember it if we've said it out loud!)



Do you have a tip to share?

We're all about sharing tips that have worked for us in our community. If you're new here, we run regular online cuppas from Monday to Friday where you can chat with others also caring. If that is too big a step, join our online Mobilise Hub and share some handy carer tips (or steal some 😉) in the community.


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1 коментар


Spirit Dancers
Spirit Dancers
02 бер.

Thank you for reminding me of a couple of points, like 'go bags' and 'resting in advance'.

Never forget, you are a superhero. ⭐️

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