Surviving These Troubled Times

Coronavirus and being a Carer – a personal take

Being an unpaid carer can be hard at the best of times; add into that the uncertainty around an invisible virus whose name we did not even know until late 2019, and the caring role just became a whole lot more challenging. I know because I am an unpaid carer.

We are living through unprecedented times. Tough decisions must be made by Government, whether that be Westminster or Holyrood, by health and social care authorities and local and national voluntary organisations. These decisions aren’t made on a whim or to ‘get at the public’, they are made for the greater good of all of us and our health. We can complain and rage against authority, but what does that achieve? It adds to the anxiety, it spreads untruths, it slows down processes trying to help.

So how am I coping? Well, I’m following the advice for a start. Hard as it is to be isolated, it must be done. I’m trying to support my husband through this while his face support service moves to telephone support and reduced hours. I am keeping in touch with my elderly parents via telephone – the digital age has passed them by. I take them the essentials, a round trip of 130 miles, once a week and wave through the window to them; these are difficult times indeed.

Finding yourself constantly checking social media or TV for updates? Try not to do this. I know it’s natural to want information, but some of that is not helpful information and just raises worry and anxiety levels. I take a break from it all. I find watching some movies or comedy shows really takes me away from the situation, and also helps my husband relax. Music is great as well, if it is lively music. Move around to the music, encourage the person you care for to do the same if possible, moving is a way of getting some exercise.

Get information when you can. Check out the latest guidance on Coronavirus on the NHS Inform Website.

If you are concerned about changes being made to the way support is provided remember that these changes are only for the duration of this national medical emergency. Talk to someone at Carers of West Dunbartonshire. I miss my one to one contact with fellow carers and my support worker, so I keep in touch via email or phone. I write down how I am feeling and put it in a jar to be dealt with later. When I return to the jar sometimes the worry is not that great anymore. Other times I know it is something that I will deal with when life gets back to normality. I am realistic, there are only so many things I can control and deal with. Accepting what you can control is essential. We can worry about reduced support, but we can’t do anything about that at this critical time because services are facing the same issues, we all are.

Last year when I was off work due to carer stress, I used computerised CBT and have to admit I found it easy o use and very helpful.

The Scottish Government’s Mental Health Secretary has just announced £3.8 million pounds to increase the capacity of the NHS24 online and telephone services. Part of this, £2.6 million, is to expand breathing Space, NHS24’s Mental Health Hub, and £1.2 million to provide extra capacity for Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

I have to trust the people running services to be making the best decisions, not just for me, my husband and parents, but for all of us.

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