Help & Care

Practical Help

As a carer to a cancer patient, asking for help or allowing family and friends to assist you can take some of the pressure off and let you have some time for yourself.
Often, your patient’s friends and family may want to help but may not know how to. We have listed out a few suggestions below that have been useful to many carers. You may adapt these ideas to suit your own experiences as these tips are designed to address common situations faced by carers.
First, you may need to list out tasks and areas that you need help with and note them on a planner or list. You may invite everyone (including the patient) to regular meetings together to keep them up to date. These meetings will allow everyone to plan the patient’s care together.
Ask family and friends when they are available and what tasks they are able to help you with. Alternatively, contact each individual with a specific request or task in mind. It is important for you to state your requests clearly so your expectations are understood by them.
Specifying a time frame for their responses on whether they are able to perform your requests may make it easier for you to plan your calendar ahead in order to avoid a crisis. As you hear back from each family member or friend, note their responses on the planner to make sure each task is taken care of.
Some tasks for family or friends include:
  • Driving your patient to a chemotherapy appointment
  • Accompanying you and the patient during hospital visits
  • Meeting the children at the school bus on days where the patient is receiving treatment
  • Household chores e.g. laundry, cooking, groceries, cleaning
  • Looking after the patient’s pets
  • Bringing useful things to the hospitals such as: books, magazines, reading materials, toiletries, DVDs, games, earplugs for sleeping. 
  • Sitting by the patient’s bed to keep them company
  • Sending cards, presents or uplifting letters if they are unable to be there for the patient (physically)
  • Finding information on welfare and domestic assistance
  • Acquiring information on cancer from the internet, books, doctors and local cancer support groups
  • Communicating recent news and updates of the patient’s wellbeing, so you won’t have to constantly update everyone
Additional suggestions for your family and friends include:
  • What is appropriate and inappropriate to say to the patient – this is to avoid having negative people around your patient
  • Being sensitive about the appropriate times when visiting the patient and to leave when it’s time to go
  • Accept that the patient may decline their offers
  • Avoid giving the patient false reassurances, to show concern but not be overbearing and to express empathy instead of pity when talking to the patient
  • Offering support and prayers to the patient’s recovery
  • Record videos of the patient to preserve memories if the patient is terminally ill