There are approximately 4.7 million unpaid carers in England. Parent /carers for an autistic child or person can often neglect themselves physically and emotionally and have very little time for themselves.

It can be easy to be so tied up in trying to meet everybody else’s needs that you overlook your own.  It’s a cliché but so true that to be a good parent/carer you must act like you are helping people in an aeroplane emergency (put on your own oxygen mask first before you can take care of others).  Sometimes taking practical steps to support your role, could offer some help in the longer term.

  • Register as a carer with the GP of the person you care for (and your GP if different) – This can help with gaining access to help with keeping you and the person you care for healthy and safe.
  • Register for a Carer’s passport – this is an ID card for carers who are caring for someone aged 18+ across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to aid easy recognition of their role in a variety of settings.
  • If the person you care for is over the age of 18 you can ask your Local Authority for a Carers assessment to see if you are eligible for support for yourself. If you are caring for a child under the age of 18, you can still ask for an assessment however, this is part of the Children’s Act assessment.
    Ensure you are accessing your entitlement to any benefits – depending on your income, you may be able to have access to some financial support. This may make life easier for you and the person you care for.
  • If you are in any employment, talk to your employer about your caring responsibilities. They may be able to help you work more flexibly or take time off in an emergency.
  • Engage with other carers – this can be online or at local carers groups. Connecting with other carers, who understand what you’re going through, can help you to feel less alone and be a wealth of support and knowledge.  You can click this link to see our page on support services and groups locally.
  • Be honest to yourself on what you can manage. Don’t be afraid of saying ‘No’. Stick to your limits and practice being assertive. Even if this is with yourself in the mirror.
    Find ways to be organised. You could try a notebook, diary or an online equivalent, to add thoughts, notes, to do lists and appointments.  That way you don’t have to use precious time and mental energy trying to remember everything.
  • It can be easy sometimes to take over from the person you care for or do what is quicker and easier. However, it’s important to keep promoting independence or encouraging involvement in everyday tasks.
  • Being a parent/carer can change the relationship of the person you care for. You could go from feeling happy and content to having feelings of anger and resentment. Try to keep the relationship positive and reconnect together. This could be through making time for a joint hobby or interest so that the relationship does not just depend on the responsibility of caring.
  • Relax and take some time out for yourself- Doing activities physical or mental, that you enjoy and that are fun can make it easier to cope when things are difficult. Making plans for yourself in advance can help with trying to stick to them. It can be hard to even think what these things might be, and you might even feel like you don’t have the energy or time to do this – and you might have to force yourself at first.  Try and build something in that is achievable even if this is something small, having a bath, going for a quick walk, an online exercise class, watching some TV, putting some music on and having a dance. Maybe start by getting a list on the go that you can add to.  Only you will know what sort of things will work for you.
  • When things don’t go to plan, don’t be hard on yourself. Forgive your mistakes and then move on. There is not an instruction manual for parent/carers.
  • Eating well can be tricky when time is limited, planning meals in advance, freezing food and batch cooking can be useful. If you are struggling to be able to complete a food shop because you find it hard to take time away from your caring responsibilities, online shopping maybe useful.
  • It is not unusual for a parent/carer to have interrupted sleep this may be due to the pressure of the caring responsibilities or the emotional and physical needs of the person you care for. Make sure you practice good sleep hygiene, reading, listening to soft music, a podcast, or sleep meditation can all help if you have trouble sleeping. If you really cannot sleep, get up and sit in a comfy place and do something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to quiet music. Only go back to bed when you feel sleepier.

If you have tried the above advice and you are continuing to struggle emotionally and physically, make an appointment with your doctor to explain how you are feeling. They can give you their professional advice.  In some cases, they might prescribe medication to help – or refer you to a specialist mental health service.

Carers Pack produced by the Health and Wellbeing Partnership

The LLR Health and Wellbeing Partnership has produced a Carers Pack. It launched in June 2023 and provides information for carers about services across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland that provide support for mental health and wellbeing.

Click this link to download the carers pack

For more information

If you think talking to someone regularly would help – anyone over 16 living in Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland can self-refer to Vita Health Group. Telephone:  0330 094 5595.   This is a free service that offers talking therapy to help with range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic, sleep difficulties, OCD, trauma.  They have interventions in various formats – such as 1:1, group, video call, telephone call.  

You can also find more information from these websites:

Leicester Carers Support Service Leaflet  

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