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Care Companion – free online resource for those caring for their loves ones

What is Care Companion?

The need for family care is increasing, particularly in the ageing population. Carers help maintain the independence and wellbeing of those who they care for. They help to reduce pressure on over-stretched NHS and social care services, but need to be adequately supported to do this. However, caring can be demanding, emotionally draining and isolating, and carers often feel that they do not have the skills or knowledge to give the care that is best for their loved ones.

Care Companion has been developed with carers to address their needs for information and guidance. It is available in Coventry and Warwickshire as a free, simple to use online resource for those who care for their loved ones, particularly older people with long term conditions and frailty (e.g. dementia). It is personalised to individual’s specific needs, and covers a vast range of information needs relevant to caring responsibilities.

Carers involved in developing Care Companion emphasised the importance of helping carers to look after themselves. This is sometimes overlooked, particularly in the face of demanding caring responsibilities. They are at risk of becoming isolated and exhausted. Care Companion helps carers remain effective by encouraging resilience to sustain their caring role for longer.

Care Companion has four key elements:

Resources – A library of resources filtered to the carer’s individual needs. This includes national and local information relevant to their cared for person’s conditions – such as dementia, stroke, COPD or cancer – together with general guidance and advice related to all aspects of being a carer, and sustaining oneself as a carer.

Diary – To keep track of events and appointments and record important items (such as deterioration in the cared for person’s condition), as well as a place to record thoughts and feelings in a confidential space.

Mood Monitor- A place for carers to keep track of their mood and the mood of the cared for person so that they can monitor their own wellbeing on a regular basis.

Important contacts – Pre-loaded with contact details for relevant local and national support, and a place in which personal contacts information can be added – one place to easily access information when needed.

How can you access the Care Companion?

Care Companion can be accessed directly at www.carecompanion.org.uk. They are also happy to visit organisations to present Care Companion to health and social care providers, third sector organisations and other support services as well as directly to carer groups. For further information please email carecompanion@live.warwick.ac.uk.

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Decision Aid – supporting family carers of people with dementia to make difficult decisions during COVID-19

During the current pandemic, if a person living with dementia becomes unwell, the family and the person living with dementia may have to make rapid decisions. Decisions may concern hospital admission or whether to receive care at home, and which treatments the person may or may not wish to receive. These decisions will have an impact on the emotional wellbeing of both the family and person with dementia.

University College London (UCL) have worked with current and former carers and experts who support people living with dementia and their carers to develop a decision guide to help carers when making decisions during this difficult time. The guide covers a number of decisions carers may need to make if the person they are caring for has or is suspected to have COVID-19. These include decisions such as how to care for them if they are unable to visit them, whether they should go to hospital if they become unwell and what it means to have a ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation order’. Their document will guide carers through the process of making these difficult decisions whilst taking into consideration wishes and preferences of the person living with dementia and the legal aspects of making decisions. They also provide useful tips for carers, such as the COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for which may differ to the commonly recognised symptoms, where to find help and support when making decisions and how to look after yourself as a carer.

For further information, please click on the following link: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/research/marie-curie-palliative-care-research-department/research/decision-aid

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