Working individually or as part of a group

You can work through the course individually or, if available, with the support of a mentor such as a support worker at a local carers centre. Staff at carers centres may also use the course as the basis for running their own facilitated sessions and workshops for groups of carers.

Teapot and cup of tea
Figure 6

Using the course by yourself

Reflection isn’t easy; it can be challenging to understand what you have learned from your past experiences and the decisions you have made. It can be helpful to work through such reflections with some sort of additional support. Do you have a supportive close friend or mentor who might help or simply listen to your reflections? Alternatively, you might prefer to investigate whether there is an opportunity to take part in a group session supported by staff at your local carers’ centre. (See the useful websites [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   in the Resources at the end of the course for information on national carers organisations.)

It’s fine to work through the course on your own. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you can, and try to find some moments of peace and quiet to work through the activities. It can be difficult to make time when you are busy with your caring role, or you may feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Carers who have completed the course have told us that it’s worth taking the time as they have gained so much from the course. Their tips for making time include:

  • getting up early to study when the house is quiet
  • studying while the person you care for is out
  • delegating housework to other family members.

Working in a group

If you belong to a group of carers that meets in person you could work through this course over a number of weeks. You might want to share your comments and ideas at the group meeting or online.

When you reflect with the support of a group you can share ideas and learn from each other. But you all need to have confidence in each other and be committed to respecting each other’s ideas, beliefs and experiences. If you are working in this way, all group members should agree some ground rules at the outset, including not to discuss outside the group anything that members say. No one should ever feel the need to discuss anything they do not wish to talk about, and each person should decide individually what they wish to contribute.

Take some time to agree how you will respect each other and ensure confidentiality if you are working through this course in a group, whether in person or online.

You may wish to use social media to share your learning with the group or with your facilitator, especially if you are not able to meet up easily. Do remember to make sure to agree as a group your way of working online before you start. Some of the group may not want to use social media, so this should be optional. The Open University does not endorse any particular social media site and is not responsible for content posted in this way. You could talk to your local carers’ centre to find out more about networking opportunities available.

Delivering a group session

If your role involves supporting carers, then this course is also available as a resource for you to use and adapt as facilitated sessions for carers in your setting. Check out the Guide for facilitators to help you plan and get started.