Q. What barriers might there be to someone seeing themselves as a carer?
A. Well, unfortunately there are quite a lot.
Some might be cultural or religious – the person providing the care might feel that it is just the normal or right thing for them to do – they have a sense of duty to provide the care. In some cultures, there can even be feelings of shame that care is having to be provided.
Q. What about examples where it’s not cultural?
A. It might be the case that the caring has evolved out of normal life, such as people living together who naturally help each other but maybe frailty has led to more reliance on one person.
There are also people who just don’t want to be a burden or have people “interfering” in their lives.
Q. Does the word “carer” ever become an issue?
A. Sometimes the term itself is a barrier either because it is thought of only as for professionals or, people don’t want to be labelled in this way – they might feel their relationship is diminished by the term. We often hear “I’m their partner/wife/husband not their carer”.
Q. Are there any other barriers?
A. Time to register can be a problem too and especially where the carer may have work as well.
Some people might think they have to be receiving carers allowance.
For working carers, there can be fear that they will miss out on promotion or other opportunities if they reveal they have a care role.
Lastly, getting information and registering as a carer might be quite scary if English isn’t your first language, you don’t have the internet or maybe the information is not presented to you in a way that you can access or understand.
Q. So how might I approach someone to find out if they are a carer and see if there is support they might need?
A. The easiest way is to just ask about their circumstances in a friendly, relaxed manner.
You could say something like, “Do you help your mum out?” or “Have you ever thought about getting help with your partner?”
This naturally leads onto opportunities to signpost the support that is available via organisations like The Carers Centre/Hub.
Q. Finally what might a care role actually look like?
A. As we said before, each situation is unique but there are some common things that carers do.
They might be providing practical help with things like washing, cleaning, cooking, shopping etc.
They might assist the person to take medication or provide personal care such as helping them to visit the bathroom, shower etc.
The help provided might be about financial matters or it could be giving the person emotional support.
The key is that without that support, the person would not be able to cope.