Supporting carers during the COVID-19 pandemic
For the latest information about COVID-19 and our hospitals, please visit www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/covid-19 (opens in a new window). This includes information on restrivted visiting, and how we are supporting carers, families and friends keep in touch with patients whilst they are in our care.
The Government has also published updated guidance for unpaid carers during the COVID-19 pandemic (opens in a new window).
These are unprecedented times and as more people are required to socially distance or self-isolate, unpaid carers and those they look after may find themselves looking for much needed support that they can access remotely. Carers UK’s Digital Resource for Carers (DRC) is an invaluable tool for carers which can be used in any place, at any time and on any device. It combines resources developed by Carers UK with a local authority’s own links to information and support, and there has never been a more vital moment to reach carers with the help it can offer.
You can access the Carers UK's Digital Resource for carers, and other digital resources, here: www.surreycc.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/adults/looking-after-someone/your-role-as-a-carer#digitaltools (opens in a new window).
Are you a carer?
A carer is anyone who spends a significant proportion of their time providing unpaid care to a family member or friend. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has a mental health or substance misuse problem, who would not be able to cope without their support.
The role of a carer is very diverse and can involve a range of activities, including: practical household tasks such as shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundering of clothes, assisting with medication, managing money, and taking the cared for to attend appointments; personal care, such as helping the cared for to the toilet, to wash and dress or move around their home; and/or emotional support.
The term carer should not be confused with a care worker, or care assistant, who receives payment for looking after someone.
How we are working with and supporting carers
When someone you care for is admitted to hospital, it is inevitable that you may worry but you can trust our team to look after them whilst they are in hospital.
However, you may choose to be here in your role as their carer, and work alongside the hospital staff to care for them, as you have the specialist knowledge and understanding of the person being cared for. We welcome carers and would like to work in partnership with you. We have pledged our commitment to John’s Campaign – you can read more about it below or by visiting the John's Campaign website (opens in new window).
If you are a carer, please speak with the nurse in charge on the ward to introduce yourself and your role as a carer (explaining what help and expertise you may be able to offer). Through this discussion the nurse in charge will be able to determine what will be in the patient’s best interests as well as the other patients on the ward. Once the carer status has been agreed, you will be given a carers passport (currently under review) and a badge or sticker identifying you as a carer (so it is easier for staff to know who you are, and to ensure that they provide the right support). Our carers passport outlines some of the things we have in place to help while the person you care for is with us, including visiting arrangements and concessions.
Taking care of yourself
We understand that often carers can be so preoccupied with the health and wellbeing of the person they are caring for, that they sometimes forget to take care of themselves and their own needs. Please remember that your health and wellbeing is important too.
We have put together some useful information (below) to help you take better care of yourself.
- Make sure that you get enough sleep – many carers struggle to get a good night’s sleep but sleep is a vital part of our daily life and important for our physical and mental health. Try to limit the amount of coffee and alcohol you consume especially in the latter part of the day, relaxing with a warm bath or herbal tea before bed may help
- Take regular time for yourself - caring for someone can be a full-time job so breaks are vital for your own well-being and quality of life
- Speak to someone – if you are feeling stressed or depressed, it may help to seek out professional counselling services. Caring for someone can be very rewarding and can bring you closer together, but it can also be challenging and sometimes upsetting. If you are feeling vulnerable, start by speaking with your doctor or carers support centre
- Maintain a healthy diet -sometimes this can be hard especially when you are very busy caring. There are simple ways to improve the way you eat and this can help you stay well and have enough energy for caring such as adding fruit into your cereal for breakfast, add fish into your meals, drink plenty of water, try cutting down on foods that contain added sugars (fizzy drinks, alcohol, cakes, but do remember to ‘treat’ yourself sometimes with food you enjoy
- Be active - try and do an exercise you enjoy, perhaps light exercises such as walking, stretching, playing with the kids, gardening or dancing. This can help to make you feel less tired and maintain your energy.
Further information, advice and support
Sutton Carers Centre
Sutton Carers Centre is a charity that provides a wide range of local support services to meet the needs of Carers in their own communities.
They provide information and advice about all issues affecting carers, including benefits, breaks, respite and support services, carer assessment procedures, aids and adaptations. They also provide emotional support by providing opportunities for carers to talk through their concerns, both individually and in group sessions, with staff, trained volunteers and other carers who understand their situation, thus helping to alleviate isolation and stress.
For more information, please call 020 8296 5611 or visit their website: www.suttoncarerscentre.org (opens in new window).
Action for Carers Surrey
Charity Action for Carers Surrey provides free, independent information, advice and support to carers of all ages across Surrey.
They offer a variety of help including: support groups, as well as confidential telephone support, information on benefits, practical help on moving and handling; advocacy and information on your rights, well-being events, free resources and opportunities to influence change for carers locally and nationally.
For further information, please call 0303 040 1234 or visit their website: www.actionforcarers.org.uk (opens in new window).
If you provide a regular amount of care for someone aged 18 or over, you are entitled to a Carers Assessment. The assessment is carried out by the Social Services Department of the local authority. This assessment can be done in either your home, the home of the person you care for or somewhere independent such as your local Carers Centre. As the assessment is about you, the person you care for does not need to be present.
Social Services will look at your caring situation and see if you are entitled to any services that could make your caring role easier for you. It may be good to keep a list or a diary of your caring role tasks so you can explain what your caring role entails.
In Sutton, you can contact your local authority Social Services Department directly, or complete the form yourself with support from Sutton Carers Centre then send it on to Social Services. Alternatively Sutton Carers Centre can make a direct referral on your behalf. You can find out more on the Sutton Council website (opens in a new window).
For residents of Surrey County Council, you have the right to ask for a carer's assessment by completing Surrey County Council online carers' support needs assessment (opens in a new window) at any time. If you are eligible for support from Surrey County Council your needs could be met by a range of options, including paid services and services provided by the voluntary sector. If you are not eligible Surrey County Council will give you information and advice on where you can get the help you want.
Carers UK also provides carers in Surrey access to a wide range of digital tools and essential resources that may help make your caring situation easier.
You can access the digital tools, listed below, for free via the Carers UK website (opens in new window). Your free access code is: DGTL3562. You can also use the links below to get more information on each of the tools:
- Upfront (opens in new window) a simple tool to support you to navigate the benefits and entitlements system. Fill in your details, spend a couple of minutes answering questions and you'll be guided to the information you need.
- Jointly (opens in new window) - an app which helps you manage and coordinate activities and share information between those who you share the care with.
- E-learning (opens in new window) - a variety of courses which aims to help you identify and find resources, technology and sources of support to help you in your caring responsibilities
Here at Epsom and St Helier, we support John’s Campaign which recognises the important role carers have in the lives of people living with dementia.
The campaign was founded in November 2014 by Nicci Gerrard and recognises and champions the value of carers coming to stay with, and continue supporting their loved one during an admission into hospital.
In the spirit of John’s campaign, we welcome carers of our patients on the ward and are committed to work in partnership with you.
Our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team have offices on both sites and may also be able to give you details of support organisations and advocacy services. They are also the first point of contact for health related issues, questions or concerns surrounding Epsom and St Helier patient services.
St Helier Hospital
PALS is located in the Patient Information Centre on the ground floor between blocks A and B, next to WH Smith's.
Phone: 020 8296 2508
PALS is located on the ground floor of block A (first right at the Headley Wing entrance), next to pre-operative assessment.
Phone: 01372 735243
Access support from family and friends or through organisations like Social Services and/ or the local carer support organisations based in your borough or district, for example crossroad carer surrey, and Age UK. These organisations offer a wealth of information, advice and support, and can enable you to access a variety of services for example befriending, day centres, domestic services, financial and benefit advice and flexible home based respite care.
Every GP surgery across the county should hold a register of their patient who looks after a friend or a relative. Registering as a carer with your GP practice will enable your GP to acknowledge you and your needs as a carer and provide you with further information and practical assistance.