June 18, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Carers at “breaking point” as many face having to repay benefits

MANY carers are “at breaking point” and urgently need extra support, a leading expert has warned.

Author and counsellor Lynn Crilly, says she is dealing with rising numbers of requests for help from carers struggling to cope.

A poll Ms Crilly conducted found 79% of carers were not able to access the right help or assistance they need.

The finding comes as many carers face the ordeal of having to repay thousands of pounds of benefits after accidentally earning too much money years ago say it is wrong and unfair.

Calls are now growing for the government to pause its demands for repayments of large sums of money.

Commenting on the current situation facing Britain’s carers, Ms Crilly said: “Many carers are really struggling, and lots I meet and support are saying the same thing – the help they need isn’t out there. Some are now at breaking point and we really need to start asking who is caring for the carers?

“In a recent poll on my Instagram 72% of people said they were caring for someone, 79% of those said they found it hard to access the right help and support.”

Ms Crilly, the author of Hope With Anxiety, added: “Being a carer, whether it be full time or part time or anything in the middle can have mixed feelings and emotions and be one of the most challenging yet equally rewarding things that you do. Whether you are caring for your parents, children, relation, or friend, with a physical and or mental illness, it will push you to your limit and beyond, yet give you such a sense of fulfilment.

“When you spend a lot of your time focusing on someone else and their needs, it can be all too easy to put your own feelings to one side. This, over time, can have a negative effect on your mental and physical well-being. It can also leave you depleted of energy and of any kind of life for yourself, so over time can cause resentment and frustration, so as always, the ideal theory would be ‘prevention is better than cure’

Here, Ms Crilly provides her advice on how carers can better deal with the stress that comes with the role of supporting others.

Looking after your own well being: This is just as important for you, your loved one and everyone else affected, as they can only be as strong as you are. You may not be able to take a break every time you need one, but it is important to have some time that is yours, whether it be going for a walk, meeting a friend, doing a relaxation class or simply reading a book or magazine. By doing this it will enable you to recharge your batteries so that when you are by the side of the person you care about, you are there with renewed energy and focus.

Sharing how you feel: It is important to have someone that you can talk to, and who you can be open and honest with. Sharing how you are feeling and coping can help prevent resentment, anger and frustration  from exploding. Whether it be a friend, relative or one of the many helplines and organisations with trained staff there is always someone you can turn to.

Support their independence: Helping them to have some control over their care and life as a whole can help them to feel more empowered and in charge of themselves. Talking as openly and honestly as possible with each other will help to strengthen your relationship, sharing time together in a more positive way, such as a hobby or outing will also help the person to feel more independent and the relationship more equal as it was.

Accept all the help you are offered: Many find it difficult, challenging and frustrating trying to access the right help, but if you do accept everything that is offered to you, whether it be from professional or family, friends or charities, if you are in it for the long haul any short term help is a bonus.