In the UK around 6.5 million people are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill, with over 1.3 million providing over 50 hours of care per week.  By 2037, it’s anticipated that the number of carers will increase to 9 million.  People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled as a direct consequence of the stress and physical demands of caring.  Carers UK

With a stretched health service and scarcity of funding, more and more people are taking on the role of caregiver.  With this responsibility comes a wide range of potential issues for the caregiver such as:

  • Isolation
  • Financial hardship
  • Work/caring balance
  • Lack of skills or training to support a caregiver’s role
  • Adapting to ‘role’ change
  • Tiredness
  • Access to information, services, equipment
  • To put one’s own goals on the side
  • Limited social life
  • Anger, resentment, guilt, denial and grief
  • Entrapment to the person being cared for
  • Time constraints
  • Lack of self-care
  • Bureaucracy
  • Caregiver not being able to ask for help due to guilt of ‘abandoning’ loved one

Psychological resilience might be defined as an individual’s ability to successfully absorb negative life events, to adapt and to continue tackling life tasks in the face of adverse conditions. Resilient people acknowledge their situation, learn from their challenges and they move forward. This doesn’t mean ‘being tough’; you can be resilient and still show emotions such as anger or sadness when things go wrong, but it means not being unduly affected by these emotions, or being able to move past the negative and get on with things, remaining positive: ‘Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.  Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.’ APA (2016) The Road to Resilience Available at: .

Key skills for developing caregiver resilience include:

  • Building a network of help and support
  • Identifying and accessing resources, services and financial support
  • Knowing your rights in the workplace
  • Managing time
  • Sleep management
  • Keeping a family and social life
  • Assertive communication
  • Building perseverance
  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Fostering self-care
  • Improving self-compassion
  • Increasing pro-activity
  • Improving the work/carer balance
  • Understanding mindfulness and compassion

As the number of caregivers in society increases,  it is vital they get the support they need to maintain a sense of balance and control in their life, while delivering care to their dependants.   The skills development above can be delivered to caregivers by professional care bodies or caregiver support groups.

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