Arranging for Cover as a Carer
Every carer needs a break. This doesn't mean that you are weak or lazy or don't love the person for whom you are caring, it simply means that you are human. In fact, like anyone else, carers need consistent breaks from their work so that they can relax, recharge and return with more energy. It might be just one afternoon, the overnight shifts, a weekend away or even several weeks for a proper holiday, but every carer needs time off. Understanding the importance of taking breaks, investigating cover possibilities, discussing cover options with your loved one and putting together materials for your cover are all important steps to arranging the best cover as a carer.
Understanding the Importance of Taking BreaksMany carers forget that taking a break is in their best interest, and many never recognise that taking a break could be in the best interest of the loved one for whom they care as well. Carers need breaks for stress relief, to stay involved with their other family members and friends, to see to other errands and responsibilities, to take a physical rest, to explore other interests, to travel and to hold off illness and exhaustion. Those who are being cared for also need a break from just one carer, if for no other reason than because they may benefit from a new face, new conversations, new routines or new ways of doing things. Those being cared for will no doubt also be happy knowing that their primary carers are getting the rest they need, and that they have more support than just one person to count on to help them with their daily life and needs.
Investigating Cover PossibilitiesThere are many potential cover possibilities for carers who need a break. A rota of family or friends could be instituted to help look after a loved one. The local council, social services or health authority may offer money or services to help care for a loved one in his or her own home, at day care or in a residential setting. Voluntary organisations may be able to send volunteers to help. Private agencies or individuals could be employed. Just be sure that you understand if choosing any particular option will affect any sort of benefits or payments, or if anyone involved will become an employer and therefore need to conform to employment law and responsibilities.
Discussing Cover Options With Your Loved OneCarers who have investigated all possible cover options should discuss these possibilities with the loved one for whom they care if it is appropriate. After all, the loved one will be the one who has to live with these arrangements while the carer is away. Give him or her all of the information needed to understand the implications of each option, and don't be afraid to tell him or her your preferred option and the reasons for this choice. If the two of you can not agree, remember that unless your loved one lacks the capacity to make a decision, or makes a decision that you know will be detrimental to his or her health or well-being, you should respect his or her opinions.
Putting Together Materials for Your CoverAs you prepare for your break be sure to put together some materials to help your cover with his or her responsibilities. Make notes on medications, dietary requirements, daily schedules or routines, medical or other appointments, emergency medical contacts, preferred activities, responsibilities regarding pets and anything else that might help explain daily life for your loved one. You may also decide to leave your own itinerary and contact information, though you may not if you decide that you really need a break without interruption. If you choose not to be in contact with your cover, be sure that your loved one or another friend or relative has your contact information in the event of a true emergency.
All carers need time away from their responsibilities. Arranging for cover means that a carer must understand the importance of taking a break both for themselves and their loved one, investigate all potential cover options, discuss these cover options with his or her loved one and put together materials for the cover while he or she is on break.