In the Meriden Family Programme, we did a small study where we interviewed 12 family members to learn about whether they saw the idea of recovery as being relevant to them. It raised the following interesting information as to how this group of family members felt about the idea of their own recovery:
Did family members see recovery as relevant to them?
Interestingly, the family members generally did not see the concept of recovery as relating to them, and some struggled with the idea of ‘recovering from’ a loved one or their actions. They preferred ideas such as regaining control, accepting, coping, and moving on with their own lives:
What prompted carers, family and friends to think about their own needs?
All but one person we interviewed mentioned that a particular turning point made them see things differently, and they started to think about their own needs. These were things such as such as:
These sorts of experiences led to them thinking ‘Life’s too short’ and that they needed to change and get on with their own lives too.
What helped family members to get their own lives back?
The family members we spoke to told us about the things that helped them to get their own lives back on track:
Some of these were practical:
Other ways of coping could be described as psychological or linked with a change in the way that the family member viewed their situation. These included:
The role of support and education
Some found that talking and gaining support were helpful. One person mentioned going to a support group as ‘the beginning of my recovery’.
Healthcare professionals who encouraged self-motivation and independence in service users, provided therapy for the service user and carer, or offered respite to carers were also a huge support.
Others mentioned that a Carer’s Assessment and Care Plans providing clear and accurate information were helpful. Information, coping strategies, and signposts to useful helplines or services were extremely valuable to all the carers:
‘Knowledge is power … I think I’ve learnt a hell of a lot and I think I’ve got a bank of knowledge now that I dive into for lots of different things.’
‘Information, once I know what’s happening, what’s gonna be done about it, where to get the help …… it’s given me a lot of confidence.’
How health and social care services can support carers’ recovery process
Many carers spoke of the positive benefits of their caring role in terms of them becoming more resilient and confident. In addition they gave suggestions as to how professionals could help them. These included:
Advice to others in the same situation
Relatives who were interviewed had some key bits of advice for others: