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Preventing informal carer overload

How to spot informal carer overload and help to prevent it

Informal and family carers are part of the backbone of our community. There are over five million informal carers in the UK, caring for family and friends, unpaid and often insufficiently supported.

Most informal carers are glad to do it, but the constant pressure can take its toll. “We take our hats off to them,” says Sally Graham, managing director of Avant. “We know that while caring can be extremely rewarding, it can be hard and relentless work. Our experienced professional carers can go home after work andget some time for themselves, but this is often not an option for many informal carers. It’s no wonder they can risk getting carer overload.”

How to recognise carer overload

“Informal carer overload is more than just physical fatigue – though that can be serious enough,” says Sally. “It’s about emotional fatigue too.” She explains that it can include feeling hopeless, anxious and trapped, and that their own life is completely overshadowed by the care needs of their loved one.

Unaddressed, overload can sometimes result in poor care – even though it is the last thing the informalcarer wants. “Overloaded carers can find themselves losing empathy with the person they care for, becoming argumentative and impatient, and starting to resent them,” says Sally.

Respite care

Overloaded informal and family carers – and indirectly their loved ones – may well just need a break. Respite care, provided by an alternative care source, can give the informal carer time to recharge and restore their usual level of compassion.

“All it may take is a couple of hours when the informal carer can do things to nurture themselves, perhaps reading, walking or meeting a friend for a chat,” says Sally. Respite care can also be arranged over a longer period, perhaps facilitated by live-in care, a spell in a care home, or even a holiday.

See the Carers UK website for more about the options, how to access them.

However, respite care provided by local authorities or social services is not always quickly arranged. Usually it can beput in place faster through an agency such as Avant Healthcare Services.

Sally says: “If you, or someone you know, is at risk of informal care overload, consider calling us. We can provide free, understanding advice about the kind and level of respite care that could help, and how to fund it, if necessary.

“We can quickly provide trained professional carers to deliver short- or long-term visiting care, sleep-in/waking nights, live-in care, companionship and socialising. Our experienced specialist carers are trained to provide services to people with many conditions including dementia, Alzheimer’s and care after a stroke.

“A chat with us costs nothing. We can help informal carers take a break knowing that their loved ones are in safe hands.”

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