Lost in (Digital) Space…

By Leanna Wall, our new digital coach 

In this day and age, it seems impossible to escape the fact that almost every aspect of life has some form of digital connection; connecting with friends and family via social media, banking, paying bills, shopping, you can even order a taxi at the click of a button. There is virtually nothing that you would normally do day-to-day that you can’t do online.

Great if you know how to use it… daunting if you don’t.

With companies spending so much time and money on developing digital technology, it is sad to think that its’ potential users may feel they are being left behind, with very little or no knowledge of how to use what is available to them, and no one to show them how.

Thankfully, the Carers’ Centre have recognised that there is a real need for support around all things digital. And that’s where I come in! Continue reading Lost in (Digital) Space…

Warm welcome at carer cafe

by Carmen Cooper

‘I nearly didn’t come here today as I had a bit of a wobble,” said Helen, who was making her first visit to the Carer Café at Mardons Social Club in Midsomer Norton.

I knew exactly how she felt, as it was only four weeks ago that I walked into  the Bath Carers’ Centre office to take on my new job as Wellbeing Administrator, and today I was leaving the familiarity of the office and making my first outing to meet and chat with carers.

So when Helen announced to the café co-ordinator that she was a newcomer, I thought: “Great! There’s someone like me.  We newbies should stick together!”

Continue reading Warm welcome at carer cafe

Support Kimberley and Rio in their mega fundraiser!

Kimberley Williams is fundraising for 8 charities in a mammoth campaign to support the organisations who helped her family during the first year of her son Rio’s life. Rio had a number of complications after he was born which meant he was in and out of hospital.

“Rio’s had 2 major surgeries,  spent 45 nights in 4 different hospitals. Hes been under general anaesthetic 3 times, He’s been resuscitated once, He’s had his bowel perforate & his windpipe crushed.  He’s had 5 ambulance rides & so many hospital visits, we once had 6 appointments in 1 week and saw 3 hospitals in 1 day!

“He has been fed by a tube for 8 months, about 30 X-rays, 1 CT scan, 1 sleep study, 10 vaccinations & more blood tests that I can count. All of that with 1 congenital heart anomaly & the addition of 1 very important extra chromosome, 21,” Kimberley said.

Kimberley was referred to the Carers’ Centre by a friend after Rio was born and the complications began.

“It was all a bit of a shock and very difficult as we had no indications anything was wrong while I was pregnant. I had some counselling with the Centre in the first instance, which was very helpful.”

Thanks to the Centre the family were able to go on activities as a family.

“Normal things kind of go out the window so we probably wouldn’t have been able to go on trips or anything if it hadn’t all been organised by the Centre. It enabled us to have a few hours as a family together doing something nice. My other son, Felix, (3) really benefited from this time together to get out and do things.” Continue reading Support Kimberley and Rio in their mega fundraiser!

Here’s how you can get 50% off Yoga Classes here in Bath

Hopefully, you’ve heard that the Carers’ Centre offers a free discount card to all carers living in BaNES and registered with us. If you haven’t heard, now you have!

We sat down with one of our fabulous local businesses that partnered with us in the card scheme, Universal Yoga. Based out of Dunkerton, between Radstock and Bath, this yoga studio offers small classes for any ability. AND with your carer card, you can get 50% off.  Haven’t got a carer card? Enquire here! 

We talked to Kat from Universal Yoga to find out more about who they are.

Tell us more about your business! What do you do & where are you based?

We are based in Dunkerton, Bath and offer yoga classes to all abilities on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6.30—8pm on both of those nights. We also offer one to one sessions for clients with specific needs.

Who might we meet if we come and visit you?

You’ll meet Tamara and Matthew, our two fantastic yoga teachers. They both offer excellent classes, but they also both offer something different to our students. They teach the same style of yoga but bring their own personality to it. You’ll have to come along to see for yourselves!

What made you want to join the Carer Card scheme?

We are all about being altruistic, this is a huge part of living a yogic lifestyle and we believe being part of a community and sharing with others is so important. People are always stronger together. We wanted to join to show our support to those carers looking after people in an altruistic way themselves.

Do you often come in to contact with carers? 

In my experience, yes. I have had lots of people giving support to my family this year, paid and unpaid carers. Continue reading Here’s how you can get 50% off Yoga Classes here in Bath

Young Carers Awareness Day Focused on Mental Health

Each year, national carers charity Carers Trust organises Young Carers Awareness Day, this year taking place on January 31st. The purpose of the day is to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by young people because of their caring role, and to campaign for greater support for young carers and their needs.

Young carers are more likely to suffer from poor mental health than their peers — so this year’s awareness day will focus on mental health.  Earlier this month we talked to one of the young adult carers we work with, Sue, who talked about her experience caring for her dad and the difference support from the Centre has made.

Sue said: “Friends don’t always understand that I can’t always go out, so I get called boring. I was happy to finally find support to help me feel less alone. The Carers’ Centre has helped my life change for the better.”

Here at the Carers’ Centre Young Carers Service we are responding to this need. We will be focusing more on young people’s mental health in 2019, by launching our new Positive Penguin group (starting this month for primary age young carers) as well as continuing the iCare peer support group, starting back later on in March.  These groups aim to offer a safe space for children and young people to discuss the pressures of caring, challenges they’re facing and to make friends with other young people who are in similar situations.

Continue reading Young Carers Awareness Day Focused on Mental Health

Fundraiser Stories: Bath & the Half give mental health boost to young runner

RUH Administrator Jess Sowton, 25, is running the Bath Half this year in aid of the Carers’ Centre. This is Jess’s second half marathon and she hopes to get close to a two hour run this time around. There’s still time to join Team Carers in this year’s Bath Half — sign up here!

Originally from Hampshire, Jess moved to Bath last year after struggling with her mental health and deciding to step out of her comfort zone.

“I realised that I wasn’t happy with where I was in life — I didn’t really know what I wanted from the future, my mental health was suffering, and I knew I wasn’t challenging myself and felt unsatisfied with everything,” says Jess.

Recent research (the Guardian) shows that more than one in four women aged 16-24 now report symptoms of common mental health conditions like depression and anxiety – a rise from 21% when the study was last carried out in 2007.

Jess felt an improvement in herself after the move.

“I moved out of my flat, left my job, and moved to a new city — enter Bath! I got myself a job and things just fell into place. It was a challenge in terms of pushing myself into so many new environments.

“I am lucky to have family and friends to support me, but by making myself face the fact that I needed to change my situation has made me so much more confident. I want to keep challenging myself to seek the best that I can get out of life.”

As well as uprooting her life, Jess found that exercise really helped her lift her mood and feel fitter and healthier.

Continue reading Fundraiser Stories: Bath & the Half give mental health boost to young runner

Carers Rights Day 2018

Next Friday, the 30th of November, is Carers Rights Day. This is a national awareness day to help make carers aware of their rights and entitlements – for things like benefits, flexibility from employers, supported housing and lots more.

It’s a special day for the Carers’ Centre as well as we are hosting our AGM and our first Caring Community Awards. These awards will recognise and celebrate people, places and organisations in our community that are taking carer awareness seriously and making carers’ lives easier. Thanks to our amazing sponsors Bluebird Care, Curo, Gerrard Financial Consulting, Minuteman Press and Mogers Drewett who have made the event possible.

We’re looking forward to sharing these stories on Carers’ Rights Day to make sure that we help foster a more carer-friendly community. This is one of our key organisational goals. If you’d like to come along to the awards let us know by RSVP-ing here (all the details at the link).

If you’re a carer and would like more information on your rights and entitlements, check out this useful guide by Carers’ UK – it tells you all about your rights in work, the importance of taking a break, and lots more practical information and advice.  (The linked guide is for carers in England, but you can find more resources and guides for Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland here)

Here’s a sample from the guide:

 

There’s lots more useful information like this at the link provided. If you have a more specific question about your caring role or about local services, you can call us on 0800 0388 885 and speak to Sue, our information and advice officer. Sue has a wealth of information to help local carers in Bath and North East Somerset.

Visit our website  for more information about our work or to sign up as a carer with us. 

Every Drop Counts: An Introduction to Wellbeing for Carers

By Grace Moorton
Carers Support Officer

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing relates to how we feel in ourselves and it is different for everyone. If we feel satisfied that our lives are going well, we have a sense of purpose, feel in control, and are happy with our health (both physical and mental); then we might say we have a good level of wellbeing.

Keeping a high level of wellbeing can be hard when we are caring because of all the extra challenges thrown our way. Imagine a glass being filled with water. The water represents all the stressful things that can negatively affect our wellbeing, like finances or work.

As a carer, our glass may already be very full and it only takes one small drop of water for it to overflow. If our glass overflows then we may feel unable to cope and this can negatively affect our physical and mental health.

Small steps can make a big difference

We cannot always control the daily hassles that we face, but we can control things that may help to improve our wellbeing. Just as one more drop in our glass can cause it to overflow, one small action could help to keep things under control: making the difference between coping and not coping.

If you are looking for ideas, there has been recent research into actions we can take, such as the “The Five Ways to Wellbeing” (New
Economics Foundation). This suggests five key steps to improve our wellbeing with examples for each. Click the link for more information.

The first step

No one has more expertise in ways to improve our wellbeing than ourselves. We know what we like and what we don’t like, what works for us and what doesn’t. We can start with a very small
step: by simply asking ourselves “what makes me
feel good?”

For example, you could –
• Enjoy a nice cup of tea
• Listen to your favourite piece of music
• Go outside for five minutes of fresh air

Making a list of all these things is a great way to remind ourselves of the small steps we can take to improve our wellbeing, and to ensure that we make time for this.

Of course, there may be times when we feel we cannot cope and our glass seems to overflow whatever we do. It is at these times that we might need to ask for extra help, and this is OK. In fact, asking for help is a great step in itself when looking after our own wellbeing.

Whether we are making small steps or big steps, we can take control of our own wellbeing, and every drop counts.

Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine This Winter

As a carer for someone else, it can be easy to overlook your own health.  Flu can knock even the healthiest people off their feet for a couple of weeks, making it impossible for a carer to look after the person in their care. This is why the NHS offers a free flu vaccination for those either in receipt of a carer’s allowance and/or look after someone who is elderly, disabled, or somebody who lives with a serious long term condition who couldn’t manage without their help.

It’s not just about protecting you as a carer from getting flu, but also preventing you from passing the virus onto the vulnerable person you care for.

Flu is a highly infectious disease which is easily spread from one person to another. Getting flu when you already have a long-term condition can lead to serious complications, and it can even be a killer.

For those who already have a long term health condition, are pregnant or are over 65, it can be even more dangerous as your body will struggle more to fight off the illness and you are more at risk of complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Children are also more at risk.

There are a lot of myths about flu that have circulated over the years. Many people worry that the vaccine can give you the flu. Please be assured that this isn’t possible as there is no live influenza virus in the vaccine.

Continue reading Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine This Winter

Hear from a carer about their journey with dementia — guest post

Steve Hynd writes about his family’s journey with dementia. Reposted with permission from Steve’s blog.

Steve’s mum Jackie with her favourite cow, Emblem.

Yesterday was my mum’s funeral, the end of a long journey that started many years ago. Its initial stages were played out behind the scenes, out of sight, deep inside my mum’s mind. Unknown to any of us, friends or family, the 100 billion or so neurons in my mum’s brain started a countdown. These neurons in her brain threw out neurological branches that connected to more than 100 trillion points, allowing for thoughts and memories to be formed and recalled. Slowly, and completely silently, this number started to drop. With no fanfare, an incredibly awful and utterly incurable process began that would only begin to show itself years later.

When it did show itself, it did so relatively innocuously. It was the odd repeated question, the occasional double take, the subtlest of shifts away from engaging in conversation.

The science behind Alzheimer’s tells us that the areas of the brain most commonly affected early on are those that are used for learning and planning. I remember patiently sitting with my mum trying to explain to her how to use her new mobile phone. The simplest instructions seemingly lost in the seconds following the conversation. In retrospect I can see the folly of trying to explain, and reexplain, something new to my mum. That I failed to mitigate my own behaviour, let alone expectations, to allow for the early onset dementia is both something I regret, and something that makes me feel embarrassed.

How unequipped I was to support my mum in those initial stages leaves a deeper sadness in me now than the ending of her story. She was preparing for one of the hardest journeys of her life, and I turned up with no shoes to walk in, maps to direct me or rations to sustain us. I was woefully ill-equipped.

Continue reading Hear from a carer about their journey with dementia — guest post