In recent months, I’ve again found myself in a key carer role, for the first time in a decade. As Power of Attorney for a dear friend, I’ve been coordinating her care – and without the usual support facilities, plus with all the delays because of the pandemic, what a stressful time it’s been!

Despite making it clear that the lady was, in my view, at risk, even getting a capacity assessment was an obstacle course; without that assessment, I was limited as to what I was allowed to put in place for her care. With my hands tied, I tried every avenue I could think of in order to see what help was available and eventually secured a phone appointment for advice. As the appointed hour neared its end, I asked the question most on my mind: what will happen next? The answer: you should get another call from us in a couple of months! A couple of months – and this was for a lady who I had declared to be at risk right now!

In fact, I did secure a capacity assessment and the friend is now safe, well and very happy – but without my background, I wonder how long it could have taken to get that far and what might have happened in the meantime.

In addition, I could feel my own carer stress building throughout that time. Carers, as we know, tend to prioritise the needs of the person they’re caring for and, in doing so, neglect their own. Having been through this recent experience, I implore carers to please be realistic about their own wellness and to take their own needs seriously, because their stress levels right now may be even higher than they’ve recognised. It’s that classic case of needing to keep the carer well, isn’t it? If you know of people in a carer role and without their usual services to help them, please consider offering to help if they need time to access their own healthcare review.

I’m sure, meanwhile, that healthcare teams are very aware of all of this – but I thought it was worth telling this story anyway. If I’ve found this tough, goodness knows how tough people without my experience and understanding of the systems are finding it!

Again – whatever your relationship, if you know someone may be in need of support, please don’t hold back in offering it.