Caring for the Carer

Who is a Carer? Anyone with a vested interest in the Patient is a Carer … wife, husband, adult child, nurse, care worker, doctor, counselor, domestic worker … is a Carer.

Everyone has an expectation when receiving any form of ‘care’ — be it from a doctor, a nurse, a care worker, teacher or police officer, partner or adult child — that the care being received will come from the Carer’s heart … but who cares for the Carer’s heart?

Carer’s are human too … with a past … personal problems … and pain.

Caring all day for others … we tend to put our own pain away. Our needs fall to the bottom of the pile.  

In order to survive, one of the ways Carers cope is to hide our own pain because we don’t have the time or knowledge to know what to do with it or how to deal with it. As a Carer we have the natural tendency to put ourselves last.

Training programs for Carers must tackle the subject of self-care:

  • Create understanding of how essential self-care is
  • Offer resilience skills, tools, resources 
  • Acknowledge that occasional debriefing sessions are needed
  • Establish self-discipline to do what is necessary for self-care
  • Emphasise the need to create time for self-care
  • Encourage and promote self-awareness
  • Teach Carers where to find support
  • Educate and demonstrate holistic caring – body, mind, emotion and spirit
  • Ensure emotional growth

Caring for the Carers requires:

  • a happy and caring environment
  • in-service training to empower Carers
  • holistic caring for self-support
  • invest time in the Carer so they can care for themselves and each other 
  • policies and procedures to ensure that caring for the Carer is compulsory
  • lead by example – care for yourself – walk the talk!

What is Holistic Care?

We are all born as a whole person. Whole does not mean perfect. It means we are made up of different parts – body, mind (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, conditions, perceptions, etc.),emotionsas well as spirit and soul.

When we experience loss – illness, trauma, bad news, death, grief – it affects all the parts within us … body, mind, emotion, spirit and soul. Therefore, care has to be given to all those parts. If the experience of loss, trauma, change, etc. is not dealt with holistically, the Carer will be out of balance.

What is loss? And how does it affect the whole person?

Loss = reality

What does that mean?   

It’s a fact!  Like sunrise or sunset – you can’t change it and you can’t protect anyone from experiencing or feeling it.

Facts about Loss:

  • We are all unique, there are no rules
  • No right and no wrong way of coping
  • You never experience loss alone – you may feel alone, but several other people are living their own experience of the same loss
  • There is no fixed format as we can jump back and forth from stage to stage
  • We can be in all the stages at the same time
  • Our experience of loss will be unique, yet we will identify with universal feelings
  • There is no time limit
  • Stages serve as coping mechanisms and should only be temporary
  • Lack of acceptance will cause you to become stuck between the past and the future
  • Most times we experience multiple stages of loss simultaneously

Stages of Loss
Every stage has symptoms, a purpose and dangers

Shock — Denial — Anger — Bargaining — Depression — Testing — Acceptance

Photo by Jon Bow/Pixabay

The stages of loss can be likened to a river, with stepping stones to help cross the river. Sometimes a person will get stuck on a stepping stone … experiencing one stage of loss for a longer period of time. Even if a person repeatedly revisits an earlier stage of loss, coping with loss in a healthy way will enable moving on at the right time.

Kubler-Ross loss cycle

What you can and cannot do

  • You canonly take responsibility for yourself
  • You canonly acknowledge the stage the person is in
  • You canallow the person to feel and express
  • You canunderstand and sympathise
  • You can normalise what a person is feeling
  • You canempower the person with knowledge about loss
  • You cannottake it personally
  • You cannot fix it
  • You cannotprotect
  • You can change your attitude

Remember, there is no shame in asking for help during a time of loss. Seeking counselling is a healthy response to the devastation of loss. Grief counselling might be a from religious person, a professional counsellor, a holistic counsellor or any one of several organisations.

Hospice is an International organisation assisting care for those living with a terminal disease and their families.  Hospice care is dedicated to holistic care – palliative care with support from a multi-disciplinary team.  

Every hospice is unique and offers a service which they have resources for to offer.

Visit the HPCA Hospice palliative care website for your local Hospice

By Marisa da Fonseca Wollheim

Holistic Entrepreneur

My Love + Life + Work + Spirituality are not separate

“Everything you ever need is already inside you…

And who you really are, is far beyond your comprehension!”

MarisaWollheimis a passionate Speaker, Trainer and Holistic Intuitive Counsellor with 21years’ experience in Hospice Care – shehas built up a wealth of experience, knowledge and her wisdom from walking a path with dying people who have inspired and taught her, we do not have to wait till we die before we become aware of who we really are, what unfinished business we have and what our greatness is …   Marisa developed several courses to facilitate personal development and life skills and offers holistic counselling and life skills to live and understand loss.

Marisa Wollheim 0766493989

image by Hush NaidooUnsplash

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