We know that unpaid carers are likely to be under additional pressure during the current pandemic. Many of you are trying to juggle work and study, with an increasing caring role, while also trying to maintain safe distancing and follow restriction rules. We know that you may not be getting the support or breaks from services that usually help you cope or that you may be caring for loved ones at home to shield them from the virus. Some of you are also carers in your work lives as well as being unpaid carers at home.
At this time it may seem that taking care of your mental health and wellbeing comes way down the priority list of things to do. Hard as it may seem, it is important to find even small ways to look after yourself. Please have a look at the resources on this website and see if there’s anything that might help you during these difficult times.
To find out about local carer support services, including carer centres near you, Care Information Scotland provides a detailed list of all carer centres and young carers services across Scotland.
Local carers services are currently providing support, information and advice to carers over the phone and online.
The support offered differs depending on which centre you use however all will be able to support you with questions you may have around the current pandemic.
The Scottish Government defines a carer as “an individual who provides or intends to provide care for another individual.” You do not have to live with the person you care for and you may be providing practical or personal care, emotional support or a mixture of the above. A person is not considered an unpaid carer if they have a contract to provide care (in employment) or if the care provided is part of voluntary work.
Carers can be relatives, including parents, children and siblings, but can also be partners, friends or neighbours. You may be a young carer if you meet the above definition and are under the age of 18, or 18 and still at school.
The Scottish Government has published advice for unpaid carers who visit or live with a friend or family member to provide help with personal care such as washing or dressing. The advice details the situations in which unpaid carers may require personal protective equipment (PPE).
If you think you require PPE due to your caring role, and the routes you normally use to access it are unavailable, please contact your local carers centre and they will advise you on how to access supplies locally.
A list of local carers centres and young carer services can be found here.
If your local carers centre is unavailable, you can call the Social Care PPE Support Centre on 0300 303 3020 and they can provide you with information.
For further information on support for unpaid carers please see: Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for unpaid carers.
To find out about local carer support services, including carer centres near you, Care Information Scotland provides a detailed list of all carer centres and young carers services across Scotland: Care Information Scotland.
Shared Care Scotland have compiled a comprehensive list of home-based activities to help unpaid carers, and those they care for, to have a ‘break’ at home. Click here for details.
Please also have a look at the resources on this website and see if there’s anything that might help you during these difficult times.
The COVID-19 outbreak means that you may be feeling more stressed or worried than usual. In times of stress some people can drink more often or more heavily, but now it’s more important than ever to look after your health and wellbeing.
Social distancing and not having access to usual coping mechanisms or support systems can make people feel lonely and isolated. Work may be a source of stress at this time with changes to the way you may normally work, such as working from home or reducing hours. Reduction in availability of services to support you and the person you care for may increase your caring role and stress levels. Being at home all day, carrying out home schooling and caring can be overwhelming and you may find yourself turning to alcohol when you have some time to yourself. However, long term and frequent drinking can actually reduce your mental wellbeing and contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety and impact on your ability to provide care safely or carry on with work.
Drinking alcohol can impact your health in many different ways and the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk. So keeping track of your drinking is even more important than usual. Understanding why you drink, being aware of how many units you’re drinking and the ways to reduce risks to your health and wellbeing can help us make informed choices.
The low risk drinking guidelines advise:
To keep health risks from alcohol low, both men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week, on a regular basis.
If you’re pregnant, trying for a baby or become pregnant, no alcohol is the safest option. Find out more about alcohol and pregnancy by clicking here.
For people under 18 years old, the Chief Medical Officer advises that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. If you’re taking prescription medication, or any other drugs, it is important to be aware of how they interact with alcohol.
If you are concerned about how much you are drinking, you might benefit from completing this self-assessment questionnaire.
Information about the above questionnaire can be found here.
You can find alcohol services in your area on NHS Inform, these can be found here.
Get advice, get what you’re due and plan your budget
You may have had to reduce your hours for child care or other caring responsibilities, had a partner furloughed or who has lost their job, or you may have had to give up your own work to take on caring responsibilities. So if you’re worried about money and paying bills it’s important to get advice quickly before it affects your health and wellbeing.
There are many sources of money advice to help sort out finances and make sure that you get everything you are due. There might also be top up benefits that you’re entitled to. Access to financial support services may also be available through your workplace or local carer service.
Making the most of your money
It’s possible that you’re not getting everything you’re due or that you’re paying too much for some services, so it’s important to get advice on how to maximise your household income. The organisations below can give you support and guidance:
Planning your budget
Having a plan of how you spend your money and how you can make sure you have enough to buy what you need and pay your bills can reduce money worries. The Money Advice Service have a simple-to-use budget planner on its website. You can access the budget planner here.
Debt advice organisations will offer support and guidance on how to deal the debt that you may be worried about. There are links below to organisations who will help in this situation:
Debt Advice Foundation
Scotcash is a Scottish organisation which provides affordable credit without credit checks, but uses other way to provide loans to people who might not get one from traditional financial organisations. It also provides financial support and guidance to help you make the most of your money. Applications can be made online or an appointment can be booked to talk to an adviser. You’ll find a link to the Scotcash website here.
This pandemic is a unique circumstance which has caused stress and uncertainty, creating some significant challenges to our wellbeing. For some people, it has led to huge demands on our time and energy. As a carer you may be juggling home working, home schooling and home caring without the usual things that support your wellbeing, such as pleasurable activities, a chance to get a break from caring, meeting up with other carers, face-to-face support from carer services, routines and good social support. Many carers may feel pressure to achieve the same level of focus and caring whilst also juggling these many priorities, and this can lead to feelings of exhaustion and guilt when they fail. For some people, the risk of being at home with people we are not safe with is real and needs to be urgently responded to. For others, the mental health difficulties that we’ve struggled with or even resolved are becoming more burdensome.
It’s therefore completely understandable, normal and predictable that our wellbeing and mental health will vary at the moment. And it’s important that, as a carer, you take some time to look after yourself.
Ensure that you get periods of rest, stop and make sure that you’re hydrated. Remember to eat as well, stay connected with carer services, friends and family.
Reach out to your local carer service and tell them that you need some support, or just the chance to talk with someone. If things are getting to a crisis point for you or the person you care for, speak to your GP, carer support worker or social worker.
Try to get out for a walk, even if that means taking the person you care for out with you, as a change of surroundings might help.
Public health measures to control the spread of COVID-19, such as staying at home, social isolation and reduced access to support, have created more opportunities for abuse at home, leading to an increase in domestic abuse.
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic abuse or other forms of violence and control at home, support and services are still available.
It’s important for you to know that you’re not alone. You can contact support services in confidence. Please note that the “stay at home” message does not apply if you need to leave because of fear or abuse. This can be problematic for carers due to their caring responsibilities, but you have the right to be safe. Speak with your carer support worker, GP or social services if the person you care for is being abusive, or if someone else in the house is acting in an abusive manner towards you, for example, by preventing you from working, making unreasonable demands on you, refusing to share childcare, or being physically or verbally violent towards you or any children.
Helplines and resources
If you need to talk to someone in confidence, the following national helplines and online services are there to help:
National Domestic Abuse Helpline Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Scottish Women’s Aid Helpline: 0800 027 1234
Men’s Advice Line Helpline: 0808 8010327
Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 Text: 07537 410 027 or email: email@example.com
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Tel: 0800 027 1234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline Tel: 0800 999 5428 or email: email@example.com
Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre Helpline: 0808 801 0301
Action on Elder Abuse Helpline Tel: 0808 808 8141
The Safer Scotland website has further information on helplines, and the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre holds an up-to-date list of all violence against women services available during the COVID-19 outbreak, including FGM; legal rights, immigration, victim support and housing. Their website can be found here.
If you’re worried about someone else’s safety, the Safe and Together team have produced How to be an ally to someone experiencing domestic violence.
Guidance produced by the Scottish Government can be found here.
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