Are you a carer? If so, what advice would you give someone just starting off as a carer? Irish Red Cross

Carers need our support to enable them to keep doing what they do. It’s normal for carers to put their own needs and feelings aside while caring for someone, this can be fine for a short period of time but its important carers learn to look after themselves.

The Irish Red Cross have taken 5 tips from the Irish Red Cross Carers handbook. The handbook is available to purchase for €6.99 by contacting the Irish Red Cross Head Office on 016424600. 

Looking after yourself

As a carer, you have a responsibility to yourself as well as to the person you are caring for. Looking after your physical health and being conscientious about your own diet, taking time off, exercise and sleep will keep you strong and help you to maintain your emotional resilience. If your health begins to suffer, you will not be able to help others or yourself. 

Home Hygiene

There are many preventive measures you can take to eliminate germs (bacteria and viruses) and minimise the spread of infection. The most important of these measures is to maintain a high standard of personal hygiene; a simple task such as hand washing is often done in a quick and a careless way but washing your hands thoroughly is an essential part of basic cleanliness.

Healthy Eating and Drinking

To make mealtimes enjoyable and relaxed, try to gain an understanding of the persons needs and, if they are physically impaired, find practical ways that allow them to be more independent when eating or drinking. Simple measures can be taken to make meals look and taste as appetising as possible; this is especially important for someone who is ill and does not have a strong appetite.As a carer it is easy to neglect your own needs and get into bad habits, such as skipping meals or snacking. To meet the high energy demands required for caring, however, it is essential that you also eat sensibly and regularly.

Mobility

There are strict guidelines for moving and handling an immobile person, which should be followed closely so that you avoid injuring yourself. If it is necessary for you to move the person being cared for, ensure that the correct procedures are demonstrated to you by a healthcare professional, such as an occupational therapist, Public Health Nurse or physiotherapist.

It is advisable that the carer undertakes a safe lifting course. If the person is very immobile, there are special aids and equipment available that are designed to make it safer and easier for you to move them.

Bed Comfort

You may have to help the person into and out of bed, and even change their position once they are in bed. If you undertake these procedures incorrectly, you are in danger of injuring yourself and the other person. The effective ways of moving a person in bed should be demonstrated to you by a healthcare professional. If any specialist equipment is recommended, it is essential that you are shown how to use it correctly.

People moving courses are offered by the Irish Red Cross. For further information, email courses@redcross.ie  

For further tips, and more in-depth guidance, the Carers Handbook is available to purchase for €6.99 by contacting the Irish Red Cross Head Office on 016424600.