Family and Carer Support
This page is for anyone who is providing care for a partner, relative or friend living with a physical health condition. You may find other pages and resources on this website useful too.
Caring duties may vary but often include personal care, giving medication, helping with practical demands such as housework or transport and offering emotional support. Some people have more than one carer and if you are not the main carer, this information will still be useful.
Being a carer can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. It can strengthen relationships between you, your loved ones, and healthcare professionals. However, these relationships may come under strain due to difficulties you may encounter including:
- Becoming physically and mentally exhausted
- Anxiety and stress within family relationships and friendships
- Limitations on employment and career
- Financial difficulties
- Difficult feelings, such as isolation, helplessness, sadness, anger, frustration and guilt.
If you are caring for somebody who is currently under the medical team at John Eastwood Hospice, you can ask a member of the team for further information/advice about family/carer support that they offer.
Understanding your emotions
As a carer or family member, you may become so dedicated to the person living with the physical health condition that you lose track of how you are feeling. It is important to be aware of your feelings. We have provided some common emotional reactions that you may experience.
Remember, these are normal emotional responses
It is natural to worry about somebody when they have been diagnosed with a physical health condition. Sometimes, the uncertainty of “not knowing” can feel uneasy. Worrying is a normal coping strategy which can be helpful for taking action (e.g., seeking further information). However, worrying can become unhelpful if you are preoccupied with it. Feeling worried may stop you from engaging in day-to-day tasks and pleasurable activities. It is important to manage your worries especially if they are preventing you from living your life according to your values. You might find some relaxation exercises useful or try bringing your attention to the here-and-now by doing some mindfulness exercises. You can access the leaflets to help guide your practice.
Looking after somebody with a physical health condition can be difficult and make you feel low. The person that you care for doesn’t mean to make you feel sad. However, you may fall into a vicious cycle where your low mood is stopping you from engaging in activities that you used to enjoy (e.g., socialising with your friends). You may also feel that you have to put on a “brave face” in front of the person with the physical health condition - this is not always easy and can make you feel worse. If you find yourself frequently feeling sad, you can seek further information for ways to improve your mood via the self-help leaflets
You may feel guilty for arguing with the person you are caring for, having negative thoughts about them or spending time with others. You may also feel like you should be doing more for them. These are all common emotional reactions. Talking about your feelings of guilt with somebody may help you to accept these feelings. Likewise, having time to yourself may help you to look after your loved one better.
Spending most of your time with the person you are caring for may lead you to feel isolated. You could share your worries with your loved ones if you felt comfortable to do this. Alternatively, you could contact a carers support service and speak to a professional.
You may feel angry when somebody close to you has been diagnosed with a physical health condition. The person you care for doesn’t mean to make you feel angry. It might be that you feel worried or hopeless and express this as anger. Sometimes you might aim your anger unnecessarily towards your family, healthcare professionals or even the person you are caring for. The smallest things may cause your stress bottle to overflow. It is important to express your feelings in positive ways e.g. writing them down, engaging in a physical activity or listening to some relaxation clips. You may also find it helpful to talk to someone e.g. a friend or a staff member.