For many of us there may be a sense that Christmas is a time to have a break and enjoy yourself. But for some people, including carers, the festive period can bring its own challenges.
If you are a carer it may be that you and / or the person you care for are affected by:
- not being able to have some of your normal routine of activities and support or not being able get a break from your caring role
- spending time with friends and family being more challenging due to your caring responsibilities or the needs of the person you care for
- feeling added pressures through the Christmas and New Year period.
There are steps you can take to help with this, and to know where the right support is available if you need it.
Here are some tips that may help you:
Have a plan – and an emergency plan
Planning can make life easier for you and the person you look after – 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. Raise any worries or concerns you have. Manage the expectations of family and friends, and be realistic about what is doable or desirable for you and the person you care for.
It is always important to have an emergency plan for what would happen if something happened meaning you could not carry out your caring responsibilities. Having this in place will give some added peace of mind in the festive period.
- Find out more about emergency planning in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough at caringtogether.org/support-for-carers/adult-carers/emergency-planning
- Find out more about emergency planning in Norfolk at carersmatternorfolk.org.uk/information-and-advice/your-rights/making-an-emergency-plan/
Ask for help and support
Talk to family and friends to try to give yourself a break, or to share caring responsibilities at times.
People may not be aware of the demands of your caring role until you explain it to them – particularly if they have not seen you or the person you care for as much during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
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. You can contact us to find out more about what can be available to you.
Connect with other carers
There are activities available to carers that you can get involved in and ways you can 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/support-for-carers/adult-carers/family-carers-hubs
Or contact us to find out more about other opportunities available to 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 24 December: 9am-1pm
- Monday 27 December: Closed (Bank Holiday)
- Tuesday 28 December: Closed (Bank Holiday)
- Wednesday 29 December: 9-4pm
- Thursday 30 December: 9-4pm
- Friday 31 December: 9-1pm
- Monday 3 January: Closed (Bank Holiday)
- Tuesday 4 onwards: Usual opening hours
With colder weather, having the right advice and support for staying warm is important.
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.
You can find out more about advice and support for you at caringtogether.org/news/the-warm-homes-scheme
Support with your mental health and wellbeing
This time of year can be particularly demanding and you may want support with your mental health, or you may want to access support for the person you care for. Support is available.
For urgent help with mental health call the NHS on 111 and choose option 2.
You can talk to Samaritans anytime on 116 123, please remember 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.
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 WellbeingNandS can 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.