Help and support when caring for someone with advanced cancer
Caring is very hard work, physically and emotionally. If you’ve been caring for your relative or friend for some time, you may feel completely drained.
It’s very easy to carry on, ignoring how exhausted you are, because you feel that only you can do what needs to be done or because you don’t want to ‘fail’ them.
It’s not always easy to ask for help. Many people find it almost impossible. You may have to teach yourself to say ‘yes’ to offers of help. But having someone else take care of chores like cleaning, shopping or gardening will take some of the burden away, and leave you with more time and energy to spend with the person who is ill. You may want to continue to do everyday chores, as it can help to keep some normality in your life, so help from others could be to sit with your relative or friend. People like to feel they’re helping, so try to let them if you can.
It’s important to remember to involve the person you are caring for in making decisions about their care. For example, they might decide to go into hospital or a hospice for a while to give you a break.
Healthcare professionals don’t always have all the answers. Try to find out as much as you can about each individual’s role. Then you can turn to the right person straight away when you have a question or problem. It will also give you realistic expectations about what they can do for you and the person you’re caring for.
If you can give them as much up-to-date information as you can, they will be better equipped to help you both.
You can read other carers' tips on looking after yourself when caring for someone with cancer in our booklet Hello, and how are you? [PDF, 914 kb] - a guide written by carers, for carers.
Help from professionals
Apart from your own network of helpers, if you have one, most of the support you get will come from the health service, the local social services and voluntary organisations. The type and amount of support you get will depend on where you live and how the services are organised.
We have details of a number of useful organisations who may be able to hepl you.
You may already be aware that some services are over-stretched in some areas. It may be difficult to find out what’s available locally and how things are organised. You may have to be persistent sometimes to get what you are entitled to. However, you shouldn’t have to do this on your own. Social services departments are responsible for making sure that you have all the information you need. They should organise services on your behalf, once the help you need has been identified.
There may be local voluntary organisations which can also help you and provide support. For example, the Carers Trust has carers’ centres in many parts of the country. They can provide information and support and may be able to help you access services.