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 five 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:
Our GP and the GP of the person we're caring for
Healthcare professionals, including for example the hospital discharge team and carer support.
Someone who listens to us well
Someone who likes cooking - a meal dropped off when we're super busy means we get to eat and someone is popping by too
Neighbours - those that live nearest to us 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 and information 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 us 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 we 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 using our free template can make it easy for us and our support network to help out. Or go one better and create an emergency plan for real life emergencies and share it with those that need to know.
5. Enjoy the “Feel Good Factor”
We can be part of other’s support networks - we all feel more comfortable when we get to help out too. Recognise when we’ve helped someone out, we might think nothing of this - but if we enjoyed it, or found it really easy - perhaps that is how it is for those that help us.
Don’t forget to say thank you too. A text, a note, chocolate, wine, flowers and a hug will add to the feeling of joy for everyone involved.