Help for those with new caring responsibilities

Covid-19 has forced many of us to adapt to a ‘new normal’ and some may have had to take on new responsibilities and are now carers. Maybe you’ve moved in with an elderly parent to care for them, or you’ve had to take a step back from work to look after a child with a health condition for which they’re not getting the same help as before.

A carer is anyone who is responsible, unpaid, for the care of a friend, family member or another person who, for a variety of reasons, is not currently able to cope. Many carers don’t see themselves as such; they accept the role as being a normal part of life and it can take them a long time to acknowledge the big responsibility they’ve taken on and the toll it may take on their own health – physical or mental.

At Notting Hill Genesis, we recently held a lunchtime session for our staff called ‘Am I a Carer?’. This session explored how your culture can influence you into thinking you are not. We focused on a study by Jennifer Pharr entitled Culture, Caregiving, and Health. The study classed a group of caregivers into four groups: African American, Asian American, Hispanic American and European Americans. While caregiving was seen as "right and correct" by all, the study found that people from ethnic minorities were less likely to class themselves as a carer. But why?

The main reason was around caregiving being culturally embedded within oneself. Participants from ethnic minority backgrounds revealed that caring was seen continually when growing up, whether provided by family members or within their community, which meant when it came to their time to care, this responsibility was taken on without question and just carried out.

This is "in contrast, to those in the European American group who expressed that they had no direct examples of caregiving growing up…participants stated that they had been aware of family members caring for family members but never observed it directly."

If you’re a carer, it’s important to take a step back and recognise you need to look after your own wellbeing. Carers UK, the organisation that supports carers, has a raft of resources and gives access to forums and chat groups where you can meet other carers online.

For those with new teaching duties, help can be found in this pack which provides practical tips on how to manage anxiety and keep your kids happy. Remember to regularly claim some time for yourself and do the things you enjoy: reading a book, watching Netflix or going for a walk. ‘Me time’ is essential.

One in eight adults are carers, and within our lifetime in the UK the number of carers will increase from 6.5 to 9 million. However alone you may feel, there are people and organisations who can help and support you.