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There’s lots to consider when managing health as a carer.  Carers play an important role in looking after the health of the person they are looking after and it’s a good idea to let your GP know that you’re a carer. It’s also important to look after your own health: given the demands of being a carer, you might need extra help to support your own health needs – whether for your mental or physical health.

It might be helpful to know about condition-specific services that are available. These services can provide valuable information and support for the person you are caring for, e.g. mental health, substance abuse, dementia, stroke, etc. Some services provide support groups for carers too.

Attending appointments

It’s often the case that a carer knows the person that they’re caring for better than anyone, and when you accompany the person you’re caring for to a hospital or GP appointment, your thoughts and opinions are invaluable. The NHS recognises that unpaid carers make a huge difference to the lives of the people that they are caring for, so ensure that you’re voice is heard.

Your GP practice

It can be helpful to let your GP know that you are a carer as they can provide you with useful support and entitlements that you might be eligible for as a carer, e.g free Covid and flu jabs.

Or they could potentially make it easier for you to support the person that you’re caring for, e.g. they could provide you with consent forms to seek health advice on behalf of the person that you’re caring for, or arrange for home visits if you cannot leave them on their own.

Worried about particular symptoms?

You might want to use the NHS Symptom Checker to investigate whether you need to seek medical help.

You can find your closest GP practice on the NHS Choices Website.

Coming out of hospital

It can be a very worrying time if you are thinking about caring for someone who is coming out of hospital and who can no longer care for themselves in the same way as before.

You may not have considered yourself a carer until now and will need to come to terms with a completely new situation – perhaps, for example, bringing home an older relative who used to live alone. Or you may have been caring for someone at home but are now unsure whether you can provide the extra care they will need after their hospital stay.

Hospital staff should inform and involve carers in decisions throughout the patient’s stay in hospital and in particular in the planning for the patient’s discharge from hospital. Carers have told us that sometimes this does not happen as it should.

Islington Carers Hub can talk through any concerns you might have related to hospital discharge.

Contact Islington Carers Hub.

Looking after your health

When caring for someone else, many carers can end up neglecting their own health. This is a common situation as carers are often so busy looking after the person or people that they are caring for on top of managing everything else in their lives. If you are worried about your own health, make sure that you prioritise getting the necessary appointments that you need too.

Caring for someone can also leave you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. Without a break or some support for you, it can be hard to cope and keep a balance in life. A break could come in all sorts of forms – it could mean taking time out to focus on an interest, getting away on a short break, or having some counselling to talk through how you’re feeling.

See the ‘For you’ section for further information including how to help to get a break from caring and how to access a counselling service specifically for carers.

Managing physical and mental health

Health self-management programmes

There are a number of programmes that can help people to learn about a specific health condition and what they can do to better manage it day-to-day. This might include changes to diet, knowing what to monitor or finding ways to help with relaxation. It can also be helpful to meet others with the same diagnosis and to exchange information about your own experiences.

Mental health support

There are a range of services that support Islington residents with mental health issues. In terms of looking after your own mental health, some carers also find it very helpful to talk about their caring role with someone who isn’t family or a friend. It gives you some time to think about yourself and talk things over with someone who is impartial and independent, without feeling guilty about what you feel.

Specific health conditions

There are a range of local and national services that provide information, guidance and support for specific health conditions, e.g. dementia, diabetes, stroke. Some of these also provide support groups for carers.

Contact Islington Carers Hub

For more information or if you have any questions, get in touch with us on 020 7281 3319 or email info@islingtoncarershub.org.

Support services

Islington Carers Hub can advise you on a wide range of things, and as part of our support, we can help you to find specialist help that is right for you and your circumstances.

Self-management health conditions

  • Expert Patients Programme
    : a free six-week course run by Whittington Health NHS Trust for anyone with asthma, chronic fatigue, COPD, depression, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ME, ongoing back pain etc.
  • Nuffield Health Joint Pain Programme
    : a 6-month programme designed to help you self-manage your chronic joint pain

Mental health support

  • Camden and Islington NHS Trust
    : provides a wide range of mental health support, therapies and interventions.
  • Islington Mind
    : provides a counselling service, talking therapies, groups and support for substance misuse.
  • iCope
    : provides support for stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and other common mental health problems.
  • Stress project
    : has regular meditation courses, low-cost & free therapies and well-being activities.
  • The Recovery College
    : delivers free courses to help with wellbeing and recovery.
  • The Maya Centre
    : for free psychodynamic counselling and group psychotherapy for women on low incomes living in Islington.
  • The Samaritans
    : is available 24 hours a day for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including suicidal thoughts.
  • Nafsiyat
    : Intercultural Therapy Centre provides psychotherapy for patients from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  • Private Counselling and Psychotherapy
    : British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have a list of paid-for therapists
  • Better Lives
    : delivered by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation is for individuals and their families affected by drug and alcohol problems
  • Hillside Clubhouse
    : mental health charity supporting people across Camden and Islington. with a timetable of daily activities, encouraging self-development.

Dementia

Learning disabilities & autism

  • Centre 404
    : groups, one-to-one support and support for families of people with learning disabilities and autism.
  • Elfida Society
    : services and support that help people with learning disabilities build connections and to have happy and independent lives.
  • Autism Hub Islington & Camden
    : is a user-led initiative for adults with high-functioning autistism, their families and carers.

Stroke

Cancer

  • Macmillan Cancer Support
    : provide services for people living with cancer at every stage of their cancer experience with emotional, practical, physical, and financial support.

Drug & alcohol problems

  • Islington MIND
    : provides advice and support for people caring for someone with a mental health and substance misuse problem.
  • Better Lives
    : delivered by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation is for individuals and their families affected by drug and alcohol problems

More information

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