The Christmas season can be a time when many of us are able to have a break and enjoy ourselves. But if you are looking after someone, it means that you may have quite a different experience – you may have more family and friends around to offer some support, but you and the person you care for may also face a range of challenges.
For example, you may be affected by:
- some of your normal routine of activities and support not being held
- not being able get a break from your caring role due to changes to services available
- challenges in spending time with friends and family due to the needs of the person you care for or your caring responsibilities
- feeling added pressures through the Christmas and New Year period. These could include financial pressures, or due to feeling people are not understanding your needs, or the needs of the person you care
There are steps you can take to help with this, and to know where the right support is available if you need it.
Plan ahead – and have an emergency plan
Thinking ahead and planning can make life easier for you and the person you look after – and for other people you spend time with over this period. Especially if the person you care for needs routine or finds it beneficial to be clear on what is happening.
Talk to family and friends about your plans, and raise any worries or concerns you have with them. Manage the expectations of family and friends, be realistic about what is doable or desirable for you and the person you care for, and chat through how certain parts of your plans may work. Say what you and the person you care for are likely to find helpful and useful, and what may be challenging.
Having an emergency plan in place for what would happen if something happened meaning you could not carry out your caring responsibilities is important at all times of year. If you do not have one in place this is something you can do. These services are free.
- See how you can get an emergency What If? Plan in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough, and other support, by going to caringtogether.org/support-for-carers/adult-carers/emergency-planning
- Or find out more about how to register your emergency plan and other emergency support in Norfolk in Norfolk at carersmatternorfolk.org.uk/information-and-advice/your-rights/making-an-emergency-plan/
Asking for help and support
Talk to your family and friends. See what opportunities there are for you to have a break, or share caring responsibilities at times.
People may not be aware of what is involved in your caring role and its demands until you explain the situation to them. Particularly if they have not seen you or the person you care for recently, or there have been changes in your situation.
You may be able to use your carer personal budget to pay for a break (including homecare) or to be able to take a carer’s break. It is best to plan this in advance. Please contact us to find out more about what can be available to you.
Stay connected with support and other carers
We have a range of activities available to you and these can help you to be in contact with other carers.
You can see more about our groups for carers – meeting both online and face-to-face at caringtogether.org/events/
You can also contact us to find out more about other opportunities available to you and see our directory at caringtogether.org/carers-directory which has details of a range of organisations and services that can help you.
Check Christmas opening times
Some services may not be available during the normal hours during the Christmas period.
Depending on services you regularly use, it is worth checking the opening times of your GP, local pharmacy and other support you may need.
Caring Together’s opening hours are:
- Friday 23 December: 9am-4.30pm
- Monday 26 December: Closed (Bank Holiday)
- Tuesday 27 December: Closed (Bank Holiday)
- Wednesday 28 December: 9-4pm
- Thursday 29 December: 9-4pm
- Friday 30 December: 9-4pm
- Monday 2 January: Closed (Bank Holiday)
- Tuesday 3 January onwards: Usual opening hours
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough pharmacy opening times Christmas and New Year
Norfolk and Waveney pharmacy opening times Christmas and New Year
NHS advice suggests that when the weather drops below 8°C, some people are at increased risk of physical and mental health conditions; such as heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and depression. There is substantial evidence of the detrimental impact of fuel poverty on the physical and mental health of residents.
With colder weather, having the right advice and support for staying warm is important. We have a session coming up on keeping warm and safe where you learn more about the links between warmth and health, advice on how to save energy and money this winter and help they may be entitled to and how to access it. Or if you need more urgent support, please contact us.
Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing
This time of year can be particularly demanding and you may benefit from support with your mental health, or from accessing support for the person you care for. Support is available for both of you.
For urgent help with mental health call the NHS on 111 and choose option 2.
You can talk to Samaritans anytime on 116 123, their support is not just for those who are feeling suicidal. If you are under 19 you can contact Childline about anything. Whatever your worry, it is better out than in. Call 0800 1111.
Qwell offers online counselling, wellbeing support and self-help resources for adults in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire – see www.cpslmind.org.uk/Qwell. Young people can also visit www.kooth.com
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have resources about mental health conditions available at www.nsft.nhs.uk/mental-health-conditions
If you are in Norfolk and feeling stressed, anxious, low or depressed then WellbeingNandS are available to help. You can visit their website at www.wellbeingnands.co.uk/norfolk/ or call their non-emergency number of 0300 123 1503.
Norfolk and Waveney Mind have a range of support and resources available to help whether you are managing your own mental health problem or supporting someone else with theirs. See www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk/ or call 0300 330 5488.
Help getting to your medical appointments
If you have a medical appointment of your own during the Christmas period you may find it harder than normal to attend it. Help is available and you can contact us for support, including with making sure the person you look after is cared for while you are at your appointment.
If you need help with your care or need to report an adult at risk of harm in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough you should call 01733 234724.
In an emergency call 999.
If you need help with your care or need to report an adult at risk of harm in Norfolk you can contact Norfolk County Council by phone or text relay.
- Telephone: 0344 800 8020 – this number is open 24 hours a day
- Text relay: 18001 0344 800 8020 – for people with hearing or speech impairments
In an emergency call 999.