Unpaid carers have revealed what they wish they’d known before taking on the role, including how to get financial support, keep energy levels up – and manage the emotional toll. How to become an expert multi-tasker, take time for yourself, and look after someone else’s household energy bills, were also skills people wish they’d had when they became a carer.
Nine in ten (89 percent), of the 500 carers polled, were not prepared for the amount of time and effort they would have to spend caring for a loved one – and it took them an average of six months to incorporate caring into their lives.
However, 89 percent said they had learned something valuable from the experience, and applied that to their own lives.
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of unpaid carers said a smart meter and in-home display had helped them to manage energy bills for someone else – and a quarter would recommend one to others in the same situation.
Phillippa Brown, from Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the research, said: “Starting your caring journey can be daunting, but also incredibly rewarding.
“Six months can be a long time to get settled into caregiving, with so much to keep on top of and manage for the person you look after.
“That’s why it’s vital that unpaid carers know what support and tools are available to help them.
“From simple things like getting a smart meter installed for the person you look after to ensure their meter readings are sent automatically, to joining local carer networks – it all adds up, and can make the task that little bit easier.”
Nearly six in ten (58 percent) believe it is “very important” for unpaid carers to be open and talk to one another to share advice.
For 60 percent of these, they do this to feel like they aren’t alone, while 57 percent want to make a strong support network to get through difficult periods.
Just over half (51 percent) want to share practical tips that will help make care tasks easier, and 43 percent would like to make friends who are in a similar position.
And the top tip carers would give others in their situation would be simply to take it one day at a time (56 percent) – while 52 percent would urge carers to take time for themselves when possible.
Just under half (47 percent) also say that spending quality time with the person in their care, not just on admin or tasks, is important as well, according to the OnePoll.com findings.
And carers cited patience (65 percent), being emotionally strong (51 percent), and excellent time management (34 percent), as the most valuable skills someone in their position can have.
Meanwhile, one in three (32 percent) believe a smart meter has saved them some time when managing their loved one’s energy bills.
Phillippa Brown, from Smart Energy GB, added: “It’s clear from the OnePoll research that so many just weren’t prepared for the challenges of being a carer – but also, half of those looking after someone hadn’t had advice from people in similar situations.
“I hope that hearing what has helped people thrive as caregivers will help others who are doing the same.”