Celebrating success and understanding trauma: TICS supports Carer’s Week 2023

June 8, 2023
We're supporting carers week

This week at TICs we are delighted to mark Carer’s Week 2023 – an event that celebrates and supports unpaid carers throughout the UK. A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction.

Caring is an act that has human connection at its heart. There are few experiences more tender than brushing a loved one’s hair, more intimate than helping them to the toilet or more joyful than seeing them reach a personal goal - be that learning to tie a shoelace, finishing a treatment or reaching a sobriety milestone. As professionals concerned with relationships and empowering those with additional needs there is much we can learn from the caring community.

Indeed many carers, including sibling-carers (those who support a brother or sister) choose careers in the helping professions – bringing with them a wealth of skills and expertise. TICS Associate Natalie Wyatt shares with us her experience of growing up supporting her brother and how this relates to her career:

“When I first started training as a social worker nearly 17 years ago I insisted it had nothing to do with my brother or his disability – I guess I was trying to carve out an identity of my own at that age. But this profession teaches you to look inwards, to really examine how your early experiences shape your values. In reality the origins of my professional self must have been forged playing out on the street sticking up for my brother, making sure he got his turn playing rounders, helping him stand up to bullies, that kind of thing. We also had a really good social worker, who I interviewed some years later for my dissertation – so she clearly had an impact on me.”

When thinking about how to best support carers Natalie is keen for more professionals to apply a trauma lens:

“I’ve had the privilege of growing up around and working with lots and lots of really impressive, resilient carers – but one of the things I’ve observed over the years is that when things start to go wrong, when the wheels start to come off, professionals tend to put it down to exhaustion or burnout. I’m sure that’s right in a lot of cases, burnout is a real thing – but for a lot of carers they exist in a state of toxic stress, cortisol flooding their body daily. What impact must it have seeing your child have multiple seizures every day? Or carrying the weight of decision-making for a parent with late-stage dementia? These can be traumatising experiences and services need to think about how we respond to that – we can increase the care package if there’s enough money in the budget but unless carers are supported in trauma-responsive ways those increases just become a sticking plaster.”

The Carer’s Trust website carries a number of resources for professionals interested in learning more about the needs of carers, and the charity Sibs specialises in supporting those who care for a disabled brother or sibling. Here at TICS we can advise on the development of trauma-informed services and offer a range of training and consultancy services.

We hope this article has been helpful and if you’re looking for any training or consultancy in your setting on anything mentioned in this article or on related areas on trauma informed practice, please do contact Lyndsay, our Working Together Lead, on hello@ticservicesltd.com and she will help to support you on your journey.

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