The road to vitality
The volume of informal care is growing considerably. Informal carers are of the utmost importance. They look after people who are close to them and work together with formal carers to provide optimal care to their loved ones. Informal carers often run the risk of becoming overburdened – they tend to efface themselves because the needs of the people they are caring for are often much more obvious and urgent.
So informal care is challenging, often demanding and difficult. But it can also be very rewarding and enjoyable. And it is extremely difficult for informal carers to keep a sound balance between their caring duties and their personal well-being. The road to vitality offers them a tool to remain vital.
The Dutch Centre of Expertise for Informal Care, in which Movisie and knowledge centre Vilans cooperate, initiated a study together with informal carers and care professionals to identify how informal care can remain agreeable or become so once more. The road to vitality offers a creative method to reflect on informal care through the use of maps. Professionals can use the maps in sessions with informal carers and informal carers can use them individually whenever they like. The maps are based on four themes: body, mind, heart and soul. The booklet 'The road to vitality' offers inspirational questions for these four themes plus instructions to use the maps.
The maps in 'The road to vitality' constitute a key to a different perception of informal care. They invite informal carers to think about questions like ‘How can I stay healthy?’ and ‘What enables me to keep going?’. The maps also inspire informal carers to share their personal stories on vitality. In this method, the process is infinitely more important than the outcome. Along the way informal carers gain new insights and ideas on what matters to them most and what keeps them vital, which generates energy. The maps may be used in group sessions or individually, in mixed session with informal and formal carers, or exclusively with informal carers who share their experiences.
The publication was only recently introduced in the Netherlands and has been tested in pilot settings with positive results. It will now be disseminated within the Netherlands, and possibly wider with the help of this English language version.
Happy and healthy
Informal carers are very valuable, not only to the loved ones they are looking after but to society as a whole. They contribute their hearts, souls, bodies and minds to the important work they do. We need to make sure that they remain able to do so. The road to vitality may help them to stay happy and healthy and give their care to others.