The caregiver does not normally have direct access to the expertise of the oncology healthcare professionals and are reliant on what the patient or next of kin tells them.
The 2011 Census indicated that 4.1% of the total population was providing unpaid caregiver assistance to others in April 2011.
Being a caregiver and supporting someone with cancer can have a big impact emotionally, physically and financially. It can affect the caregivers own health, mental well-being, working life and relationships.
Support is available to caregivers, but often they don’t know about it or how to access it. Health and social care professionals are ideally placed to identify cancer caregivers and direct them to the most appropriate support.
Video: “The Role of the Caregiver”
This video was recorded in April 2015 at the “CLL Research Consortium Patient Empowerment and Education Conference”
The video is made available (on YouTube) by the U.S. nonprofit patient advocacy organisation “The CLL Society, Inc” who summarise it as follows:
- Be a good listener. Encourage the patient to open up and practice active listening. Patients have a lot on their minds and talk therapy is good.
- Be a good talker. Encourage discussions about things NOT related to CLL. Bring levity to life in an effort to avoid spiraling down into the pit of depression
- Be an encourager. Say “It’s gonna be ok” whether or not it’s true. The patient is just as afraid as you are. You’re both afraid of the unknown. Thinking positively helps
- Have a back–up plan. Have a plan in place BEFORE something happens. Accept help from family and friends. As Kyle described, the caregiver could become a care receiver, but the patient still needs support.
- It’s not about YOU! As much as the patient’s diagnosis has upset your life, it has upset the patient’s life AND they have to deal with the cancer on top of that.
The Irish Cancer Society
The Irish Cancer Society’s website provides useful information and supports for carers – To read more visit their website “How to cope as a carer”.