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Caring For Yourself

Caring for a child with additional needs brings joys and sometimes challenges. Parents and carers can carry a lot of stress and worry and often put their own needs at the bottom of the pile.

It is better recognised now that caring for loved ones is an important role and it can be hard at times. The whole family benefit when you look after yourself.

The reasons for your child’s additional needs will vary. How it affects you and your family will vary, and may change over time.

Being advised to look after yourself may feel unrealistic. Sometimes you might be able to manage some time out to recharge with the support of friends and family. Other times you might find just a few moments to breathe deeply.

Families have told us many times that caring for a child with additional needs can at times be a lonely place and trying to find and access services can be a challenge.

Family Voice Norfolk is a parent carer forum which brings families together to improve services for children and young people.

This short animation shows why they believe that people are stronger together and how taking part in planning and decision-making can help to ensure that families get the services they need.

  • You don’t need to be perfect and you won’t always get things right. Parenting is hard for everyone and you have extra challenges to cope with.

    • Find people who understand how life is for you – this may mean finding support groups for children and families with similar challenges. There are links to find support groups below.
    • Family and friends may have offered to help – accept the offer. They may be able to help with things such as cooking a meal, doing a school run, keeping you company at an appointment. 
    • Let your GP know if you are a carer, they can make a note on your records and consider additional services that may be helpful for you - *click here* for more information.
    • As a carer you can request an assessment from adult social services to see what help might be available to make your life easier.
    • Encourage your children and other adults you live with to do as much for themselves as they are able to reduce the pressure on you.

    Take any moments you can to look out for yourself;

    • Some people find meditation useful – there are a lot of websites and online videos – different techniques work for different people. This one from the NHS takes just 5 minutes *here*.
    • If you find yourself with a quiet half an hour do something for you rather than a chore –read a magazine, have a coffee, watch TV or phone a friend.
    • Exercise is really good for mood and stress relief – find an exercise you can enjoy. Just getting outside for a brisk walk will help. There are plenty of exercise videos online if it is hard to get outside. Get a friend to join in to keep you motivated.

    If family and friends are not able to help, or it is not enough - speak up. Talk to the team who support your child’s health / education and tell them how you are feeling. Ask them to look into support for you.

  • If your child has an additional need they will be offered a ‘yearly contact’ from Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services. Contact us at our service details below for more information.

    It is well understood that caring for a child with additional needs is hard. Ask for help when you are struggling rather than carrying on and becoming physically and / or mentally unwell.

    Your relationship with your children, partner and friends will all benefit from self care – so don’t let it be an optional extra.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

The Patient Activation Measure (PAM) Health Questionnaire will help you to think about your knowledge, skills and confidence in understanding and supporting your baby or child’s health. The results of this can help us, to support you, in setting goals and priorities in a way that is right for you and your family. On completion of the questions you will be signposted to some self care resources which are tailored to your responses. This will help you to take steps to improve your family's health and wellbeing. *Click Here* to find out more. 

                  

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