It can be very worrying, upsetting and tiring to look after someone with liver disease. If you are a carer, whether a close friend or relative, it is important to think of yourself as well and what support you need to look after someone. In addition to support through family and friends, there are carer’s helplines and also counselling services that can offer help listed in the ‘Who else can help?’ section.
The person with liver disease will be the first concern of their medical team who have to respect the confidentiality and views of the patient. But hospital staff should also inform and involve carers in decisions on the patient’s care, with the patient’s consent.
You have certain rights, for example:
- to be involved in planning the patient’s discharge from hospital into your care
- you are entitled to an assessment of your needs as a carer from the local council
- if you have to give up work to look after someone, you may be entitled to a carer’s allowance or other financial support.
You also have an important role to play in helping the person with liver disease with their diet and fluid intake. Ask to be present when they see the dietician and review their diet sheet, so you can follow this when they leave hospital.
By being better informed about liver disease, its symptoms and how to manage them, you can help the patient and also find reassurance about how it affects them.
“Being able to let our loved ones know that we understand what is happening to them, is one of the most important things we can do. ” Lynda, Surrey.
Knowing when to seek medical help
Certain symptoms of liver disease, such as hepatic encephalopathy, can be a particular challenge. This can affect patients by making them sleepy, anxious, paranoid or result in other personality changes. You can get advice on how these symptoms can be managed, and when you should get medical intervention, from the patient’s medical team.