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Being a carer: support over the Christmas period

Written by: Daniella Marley, VP Wellbeing And Diversity

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Many people enjoy putting their feet up and relaxing over Christmas. But for carers the challenges of looking after someone combined with the extra pressures of Christmas can mean they don't get the chance to have a break. Christmas is a time for family, festivities and fun, but when you’re a carer it can be a difficult time for many reasons.



Tips for dealing with Christmas as a Carer:

  1. Try and plan as much as you can in advance, particularly if the person you look after likes or needs routine.
  2. Agree an approach – talk with your family and friends about how you’re going to approach Christmas as well as discussing any worries or concerns you have. Everyone being on the same page (or as a close as you can) can help alleviate stress, reduce conflict and make the festive period run smoother.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a carer it’s important you try and get a rest over Christmas too. If you’ve got friends and family who could help, even for a couple of hours, don’t be afraid to ask them.  Many people don’t realise the impact caring can have but may be able to offer support if you explain.
  4. Get a break, if you can. If you haven’t got anyone who could help, or the person you look after needs more intensive care, consider using a replacement care service so you can get a break. If you haven't already had one in the last 12 months, you could request a Carers Assessment which may lead to you being awarded a carer personal budget to help pay for a break. Or you could buy a service privately. The taking a break page has information on how to find local services.  
  5. Talk to other carers - If it’s not possible for you to get a break, you may be able to get comfort and support by talking to other carers in the same situation. One way to do this over Christmas is online groups and forums. You can also use telephone helplines, but check their Christmas opening times.
  6. Plan a Dementia Friendly Christmas - if the person you look after has dementia the festive period can cause them extra confusion and stress. The Alzheimer's Society have produced a short video and top tips on how small changes can make Christmas as dementia friendly as possible.
  7. Check Christmas opening times - some local and national services are limited over Christmas so you and the person you look after may find it harder to access support if you need it. Try and find out in advance which local services will be available. If you think you may possibly need to emergency/ crisis services, contact them or look on their website to find out their Christmas opening hours. Think too about pharmacies and GPs surgery opening times to make sure you’ve got all the medication you need to see you through to the New Year.
  8. Stay warm and well - it's important for you both to stay healthy and warm all through the winter but at Christmas when services are not always available, it's worth taking extra care and being prepared. Local NHS services have put together a fun animated video about staying well for the 12 days of Christmas.



Caring for Carers at Improving Lives Plymouth:


Caring for Carers understand how difficult looking after someone can be and they’re here to help. If you’re over 18 and look after a partner, family member, or friend with an illness or disability, you can ask for a carer’s assessment to look at how caring affects you and the sort of help you need.

Caring for Carers support carers through the provision of:

  • Information and Advice  
  • Drop-in/Support Groups
  • Leisure and Social Activities  
  • Workshops/Training
  • Carers Card Discounts
  • Regular Newsletters

They are open Monday-Friday 9.00-17:00 but are closed on all Bank Holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year. Please find their contact details below:


Phone: 01752 201890