Being a working carer is like a military campaign

Author: Caroline Day


I’ve been watching programmes on the Normandy Landings. One interview was with someone who was in the Army. He was talking about the amazing feat of getting everything together at the same time. Thousands of planes and landing craft along with all the supplies they’d need: lorries, tanks, food, water, medical equipment. Everyone said it couldn’t be done – but it was. And it was managed with a precision that will define it forever.

When helping your Working Carers you can take heart from the fact that such an enormous task was feasible because it was planned ahead of time. And the Working Carer role needs to be planned too.

At first, it’s easy to think it doesn’t need planning, that they’re managing ‘OK’. But, over time it can get more complex. The amount of care their parents need may escalate, work may be demanding attention. Then there’s their family too.

Q: How can they do everything that’s required at the same time?


These are the areas we take people through to help them manage the stress of the carer role and cope better:

The First Plan is HONOURING YOUR OWN NEEDS. It’s about how you look after yourself and recharge your batteries. On an aircraft they always tell people to put on their own oxygen mask first before helping others, and it’s like that when you’re a Carer.

This one’s all about the main Carer. It’s time to be selfish and have a Plan B for when Plan A needs another look. This is particularly useful for those times when you’re at your wit’s end. What are you going to do that will give you a boost in those moments?

The Second Plan is NOTICE YOUR EMOTIONS. It’s vital to be aware of what’s happening to you. It can happen that old emotions from childhood are brought to the fore with a reaction you remember from the past. Or it can be that you’re more short-tempered, with your family or at work, as the stress gets to you. Whatever, the important thing is to plan for what to do. It could be that you see a coach who could help you or book a Mindfulness Class.
The Third Plan is CLARIFY YOUR LOVED ONES NEEDS which is all about the care that your loved one actually needs – not necessarily the same as what you think you ought to provide. I always wanted to give my father a lovely Birthday and an even more jolly Christmas, but when I look back at the photos now, I wonder whether he wouldn’t have enjoyed a quiet day more. So, plan to deliver what they actually need.

The Fourth Plan is all about THE PRACTICALITIES. Focus on things that you know you really should do; so that you don’t have to worry about them anymore. Things like; Is there a Will? Do you have Enduring Power of Attorney for health decisions as well as financial? Have you set up Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and informed the emergency services where the form is? Have you arranged for an alarm necklace so they can summon help if they fall?

How does having a plan make a difference? Because knowing that everything’s sorted so that if anything goes wrong help will come quickly, eases the pressure when you’re at work.

You can download an information leaflet for Carers that they may find useful here.

Identifying your Working Carers can seem like the eponymous quote: “Looking for a black cat in a dark room’”, but the number of Working Carers is a problem that’s only going to escalate with an aging population. We need to turn the lights on now.

Often, the first you hear about it is when an important member of staff is finding things too difficult to manage or goes off with stress. Maybe it’s time to remember Normandy and encourage people to marshal the troops to help them – and get those plans in place.

If you need support with the ‘Working Carer issue’ then feel free to send me an email at to see how I might be able to help.

And, if you’d like to find out more about the ‘Enabling Working Carers’ course we offer, then click here to enter your details and we can send more information.

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