Published 5th September 2023
If you are caring for a family member or friend, the change from summer through to autumn and winter months can bring changes to your routine, caring situation, and your wellbeing. Being prepared, and aware of the support available to you and the person you care for can make a big difference.
At Carers Matter Norfolk we have support and advice available to help you be prepared. If you want to talk to us about anything we mention here, please do get in touch.
And if you know of other people who look after a family member who would find it hard to cope without their support, make sure you let them know they can contact us for advice and help.
Be connected, avoid isolation
Shorter days and the changes to routine as as we move to the winter months are when some of us are at more risk of feeling isolated. There are a range of carer groups and other activities that are held across Norfolk.
To learn about groups specifically for carers you can see carersmatternorfolk.org.uk/groups/. And you can also use our Carers Directory to learn more about other support and activities from a range of organisations that are relevant to you as a carer, including ones to help you can stay connected through the winter.
Preparing in case of emergency plan
Certain situations – from health situations to bad weather affecting transport – are more likely as we move towards winter, and they may mean in some cases, that you are not able to carry out your caring duty as normal. You can be prepared for this. Emergency planning will help give you and the person you care for peace of mind, and mean the practical help needed is there if you need it. See details at carersmatternorfolk.org.uk/emergency-planning
Post-summer your routine may be different. And while Christmas may seem a fair way off, it can come around quickly and Christmas can bring its own challenges for carers. Thinking things through and planning ahead for the coming months can make life easier for you and the person you care for. You can speak to family and friends, to talk through what it is best to do, and let them know any concerns you have.
You can go through what is realistic and doable, and what is desirable for you and the person you care for – as the weather changes, and days gets shorter, and particularly as you plan for times like Christmas. Having conversations early makes planning and managing people’s expectations easier.
People may not be aware of what is involved in your caring role and its demands until you explain the situation to them. Factors such as weather meaning that walking to places is less practical, people who provide transport being less confident driving after dark, or changes to activities can all have an effect.
Go through your situation and plans for the months ahead. Say what you and the person you look after find helpful and useful, and what is unhelpful.
And remember that we may be able to help you take a break.
Your health this winter
Once again there are flu and COVID vaccinations available and these can help protect you and the person you care for. Vaccination programmes start in September. Let your GP know you are an unpaid carer if you have not already done so. And if you may have challenges making your appointment let them know, and if needed contact us to find out about support that can be available.
When the weather drops below 8°C NHS advice suggests that some people are at increased risk of physical and mental health conditions. We can help to let you know about some of the support available to you that can help you and the person you care for stay warm through the winter months. Contact us to learn more.
The Herbert Protocol
Also associated with the darker nights and colder weather, if you care for someone with dementia or other conditions, it means that they would be more vulnerable if they were to go missing. The Herbert Protocol can help you. It is used by Norfolk Police, and allows you, as a carer to put together useful information which can be used if a vulnerable person you care for goes missing. This means a search can begin more quickly and be more effective. See more at carersmatternorfolk.org.uk/carersdirectory/herbert-protocol-norfolk
Your mental wellbeing
You or the person you care for may find it helpful to have support with your mental health. And a number of local and national organisations are there help. For urgent help with mental health call the NHS on 111 and choose option 2.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have information at nsft.nhs.uk/ mental-health-conditions you may find helpful.
Wellbeing Norfolk and Suffolk can be contacted on 0300 123 1503 or you can go to www.wellbeingnands.co.uk/norfolk
Or you can speak to Norfolk and Waveney Mind on 0300 330 5488 or visit www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk
National organisations who can help include Samaritans on 116 123, Childline on 0800 1111 and Kooth, you can visit www.kooth.com