Carers Week 2020 part 2 – Other ways you can help towards “Making Caring Visible”

In our previous blog post we spoke about the effectiveness of sharing the stories & experiences of carers and former carers to help the mission of “Making Caring Visible”. We understand however, the difficulties that can come with this; caring may come naturally and be rewarding to some, but for others it can be relentless and all-consuming, and sharing those tough feelings and emotions can be hard.

If you don’t feel up to sharing your story but would like to help us in our campaign, there are lots of other ways to be involved.

Other ways you can help campaign

Help us spread the word on social media
Throughout Carers Week, our social media profiles are focusing on “Making Caring Visible”. Help us by liking, sharing and commenting on our posts to widen our audience, reach those who aren’t currently getting support & others to “think carer”. 

Tell your GP you’re a carer
If you haven’t already, carers week is the perfect opportunity for you to inform your doctor you are a carer. They can support you to keep yourself fit and well to enable you to carry on caring as long as you want to. Plus, carers get a free flu jab. 
Watch our video of local GP, Gita, explaining the contribution carers make to society and why it is important they look after themselves

Ask your employer to make a pledge to support carers
If you are in employment, asking your manager or employer if they have a carer policy, or even better, to make a pledge to support their employees who are caring will make a huge contribution to “making caring visible”.

Let your child’s school know they are a Young Carer
Schools have a duty to support young carers, but many teachers have no idea they have young carers in their class. 1 in 5 students will be a young carer and for every 1 young carer we know of, there are 4 we don’t! “Making Caring Visible” for young carers can drastically improve the support they get from their school.

Add your voice or pledge on the Carers Week website
https://www.carersweek.org/ are making it easy for carers to become visible. By simply adding your name to their website, we can see the staggering number of carers across the nation. Have a look on their website for ideas of how to campaign and how they are asking others to help.

Reach out to local MP’s 
Contact your local MP during Carers Week and ask how they are supporting carers throughout the pandemic and afterwards.
Great news – Wear Hobhouse (MP for Bath) has recently joined the APPG for Young and Young Adult Carers with a pledge to support them throughout and after the pandemic!

Submit your statements which you think are important for others to know about carers.
The main thing we can do towards Making Caring Visible is to raise the voice of carers, by myth busting, helping those who don’t understand the experiences of carers to gain clarity and also to enable many more people who don’t recognise themselves as carers to break that barrier and start receiving support. It would be great if we could gather some basic comments and statements which help to achieve these aims. If you can help, get in touch! Fill in the form below with any thoughts you have which can help shine light over the life of carers. Of course, this will be completely confidential.

Missed part 1 of our Carers Week blog? Click here!http://carers-week-2020-part-1-–-why-carers’-stories-are-so-important-for-“making-caring-visible”

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Carers week 2020 part 1 – Why carers’ stories are so important for “Making Caring Visible”

Monday 8th June 2020 marks the start of carers week, and this year we are campaigning towards “Making Caring Visible”, which seems so appropriate at a time where we have all been asked to hide ourselves away.

In this period of social distancing, self-isolation and shielding, so many have found their caring roles increasing & becoming more difficult to manage, or experiencing a drastic reduction of their caring role; being unable to see their loved ones who are in care homes. These experiences are causing the risk of burnout to drastically soar and the loneliness experienced by many debilitating. 

That’s why this year, we are “Making Caring Visible” and we need your help!

Share your story

As part of this, and future campaigns, we would love to share the stories of carers.

People relate to people and by sharing your experience of being a carer, particularly through COVID-19, you will encourage more people in caring roles to come forward and get the support they need.

Hearing the stories of carers can also open the eyes and ears of others who aren’t in caring roles, helping them to “think carer” – an ambition we have frequently spoken about at our Carers’ Voice meetings and one of our goals at the Carers’ Centre; “Creating a carer friendly community”. 

Former carers have so much to contribute to this campaign too. They have lived the life of a carer and also had the time to reflect on their experience, enabling them to pass on vital information and advice to those currently caring. If you’re a former carer and would like to share your story, we are all ears!

If you could help us by sharing your story (either in writing or by letting us record a conversation) please get in touch below.

Click this link to read part 2 of our Carers Week blog! http://blog.banescarerscentre.org.uk/2020/06/07/carers-week-2020-part-2-other-ways-you-can-help-towards-making-caring-visible/

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Caring for you

Picture of carer and her husband, with text reading: questions about caring? Free info and advice on our support line 8.15am to 3pm weekdays. 0800 0388 885 or support@banescarerscentre.org.uk

The Carers’ Centre support line is open Mon – Fri, 8.15am – 3pm. But what can it do for you?

Support you as life changes: Caring doesn’t stay the same. We give support and advice as your role changes. We also help if you are new to caring.

Apply for grants: Applications include items such as white goods, tablets or similar electronics to support you in your caring role.

Help with employment: We understand the complexities work and caring and can help you through this.

Help look after you: We understand the barriers you can face in looking after yourself. We look at how to overcome these barriers and find support that’s right for you

Support you with technology: We know carers can lack confidence in accessing support online or using technology to help with caring. We can help.

Give quick, accessible information: We can point you to online sources of support or email/post (where possible) information regarding caring.

Community support: The Compassionate Communities Hub is also here to support during the pandemic, allocating volunteers to support individuals across B&NES, we can refer carers to the hub if they require help related to Covid-19 Community Support:

Most importantly, at all points of your caring journey, we are here for you.

We know the vital role you play for those you care for and we know it’s not easy.

We’re here to help.

Just get in touch.

0800 0388 885 or

support@banescarerscentre.org.uk

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A Day In The Life Of A Carer Hub Volunteer

A Day In The Life Of A Carer Hub Volunteer

Story By Andy Graham

Kevin

Carer Hub Volunteer Kevin

It’s one of the ironies of life that if you ask someone if they know an unpaid carer, they’ll often say no. Even when they’re sat next to the person they look after.

That’s the situation that sometimes faces Carer Hub volunteer Kevin O’Callaghan, who helps support carers at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. People rarely want to sing their own praises, he finds, or ask for help.

But life is full of surprises and when I go to visit Kevin in the hospital atrium, we are immediately met by a couple from Wiltshire. The husband is looking after his wife and his mother and, though in good humour, seems tired and in need of somewhere to turn.

Making a referral to his local carers centre is easily done, but it’s not always the case. Kevin has found that some people can be defensive, especially if they think you want money. Luckily, with his 34 years in sales and marketing at BT, Kevin is quickly able to diffuse the issue.

As we go out to chat to visitors, he admits that getting a positive response is often reliant on the question you ask.

“I used to just say, ‘are you a carer’” says Kevin. “Often people would just say ‘no’. Then I started to ask if they knew any carers, and that opened up a conversation which could often lead in a more positive direction.”

And indeed, as we move through the coffee shop, we get to hear a lot of fascinating stories.

“You’ve got to be careful not to make assumptions,” says Kevin. “I approached a man sat next to a women in a wheelchair. When I asked him if he was a carer, his wife piped up that in fact she was, caring for her husband who had dementia.”

Later, we make our way up to the cardiac ward, where visiting is in full flow. The ward staff seem friendly and the ward provides multiple opportunities for the former account manager.

“I tend to leave the wards until later in my shift,” he says. “Ward rounds are in the morning and you’re more likely to meet carers in the afternoon.”

Despite the serious purpose, there is much humour on the wards and the visiting relatives seem in good spirits. One woman from Trowbridge has survived multiple cancers and now has a heart condition. Her husband runs a small business and although he can’t see himself as a carer, admits he could use some help.

Before we finish for the day, we go back to the coffee shop. Kevin sets himself a target of around 8 contacts and, like all good salesmen, likes to meet this self-imposed quota.

“My record is 32,” he says, “but I was working with another volunteer at the time.”

Closing the Hub portal for the day, he reflects on his role, which he discovered while attending the hospital for treatment. “I enjoy it,” he says. “It’s as much or as little as you want to make it, and it’s very social.”

If you are interested in volunteering for the Carer Hub, call us on 0800 0388 885 or drop us an email at: info@banescarerscentre.org.uk

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Dawn’s Volunteering Journey At The Carers’ Centre

Dawn has been volunteering at the Carers’ Centre for the last three years. Here’s her story:

My mum was ill from the age of 45 with early onset Dementia. There had probably been signs even before that. I was 17 at the time and my brothers and sisters were younger than me. I don’t even think the term “young carer” existed in those days, so it could be quite isolating. I’d have to give up things ordinary teenagers would take for granted, especially on a Friday night when I couldn’t go out with friends. Close friends knew but maybe I wasn’t always honest about what was going on. I wouldn’t say, “hey, the reason I’m not going out tonight is I’m looking after mum.”

Eventually, she went into a care home, but even then, there’s a struggle to give up a caring role. At first you look forward to the respite and not having the problems. But it’s also hard to relinquish things, when you’ve taken on such a protective role. So although my mum passed away ten years ago, caring’s been a big part of my life. It’s not to say you have to have caring experience to volunteer, but for me it’s definitely been a part of it.

And helping at the Carers’ Centre, you do use parts of your experience. Although you can’t generalise that everyone’s the same, you just appreciate that carers are here and it’s their precious time to have five minutes to themselves, get their thoughts together and get ready for the next day and challenge.

I found out about the Carers’ Centre through the Banes website. My volunteering started off gently with the gardening, which felt very easy to fit around my life. When you first do a voluntary role it’s like having another job, and with doing the 9-5 and paid work, that’s not always easy. So it was a nice introduction because I found my feet, got to meet people and it’s really welcoming here.

The first break activity I did was a pottery workshop with older carers. You have instructors, it’s not like you’re doing the workshop yourself and you get to engage with the carers that come. Sometimes you get to help and participate in a workshop, which has been an absolute joy and made volunteering far more rewarding for me.

I come from an art design background and what blows me away is their artistic skills. They’ll be the first to say “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body” but I’m ashamed to put my contribution on the table sometimes because they’ve really put their heart and soul into it. I think there’s a little bit of “you don’t always know what’s going to be happening next Wednesday”, so they really put in a lot of effort.

The satisfaction in volunteering is sometimes just the fact that you’ve done something. It’s lovely mixing with different people, so refreshing to hear about their lives and understand what they’re going through. Volunteering opens your eyes, in a nice way, it’s not all miserable. We’ve had crochet nights and been giggling over the most ridiculous things. It’s easy to get caught up in your own self and that’s what I find so refreshing about helping out here. You meet some really lovely people. Volunteering’s also given me a lot of confidence to do other things. It’s easy to pigeon-hole yourself and I think it’s given me more people-facing skills. Meeting people, just taking time to talk. We live in a society where you don’t always know your neighbours and I suppose my motto is, if you’re fed up hearing yourself moaning, do something about it. That’s how you’re going to change the world .

If you’d like to know more about volunteering at the Carers’ Centre in Bath and North East Somerset, go to our website at www.banescarerscentre.org.uk or call 0800 0388 885 or email us at: info@banescarerscentre.org.uk

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Carer Conversations Session 5: Paul

Carer Paul, who cares for his mother, talks about how he has struggled to prioritise his own health and wellbeing. He feels that taking a break helped him to realise how important it is to look after yourself.

“The [Carers’ Centre Staff Member] took the time to make sure I was included. Going on that day out revitalised me, re-energised me. Depression is a roller coaster and I’ve been down but I still have that day out to hold on to… As an organisation you’re enabling me to give more to my mother.”

Take a listen here.

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Coping with caring over christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time especially for carers.

Christmas is a stressful time for many people. It’s meant to be a time for family, festivities and fun, but when you’re a carer it can be an incredibly challenging time having to look after someone while dealing with the  extra pressures of the holiday season. 

So we’ve asked carers to share their tips and advice on how they cope with caring over Christmas.

Don’t let the holidays get you down, reach out to others for help .

Helen shared her secret of how she keeps herself and her young son happy in the build-up to the holidays. “Sometimes it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit. So I look and see what charity events are taking place, and try to support as many as I can.  

“There’s lots going on, particularly at this time of year.“ She also added that giving to a charitable cause helped her feel ‘Christmasy.’ 

It’s not only carers that can be overwhelmed by the festivities, but the cared-for can find it distressing. 

“My brother is used to a routine, so the holiday can be unsettling for him,“  said Teresa, who cares for her brother with learning difficulties.  “So I always talk him through what’s going to be happening on the day. I have to plan ahead to let him know what’s in store as well as being very organised.”

Sometimes it’s hard to maintain focus during the Christmas chaos, so advanced planning is crucial. Make sure you’ve got all the medication you need to see you through to the New Year, and get the emergency contact details for Social Services , your GP and the hospital. Also find out opening and closing times so you know when they are available.

Alison, who is the daughter of a carer, said: “We have a large family, and my mother has always prepared the meal on Christmas Day. However last year, it was evident the stress of looking after Dad, and trying to cater for all of us was too much. So this year we’ve decided to share the load and everyone  is pitching in and bringing a dish to share. 

“We had to suggest it, as she is very proud and wouldn’t ask for help.”

As a carer it’s important to look after yourself first, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. ’Tis the season of giving and goodwill so don’t hesitate  to contact friends and family when you are in need of assistance or if you just  need to talk. 

We would love for more carers to share their stories on how they cope over the holidays, so please share your stories with us and leave a comment.

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Carer Conversations Session 4: Maggie

Maggie’s husband Al was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The most difficult thing for her was the fact that he knew and recognised most other people… but not her. She discusses the impact on their relationship, her wellbeing and how she managed while she was caring for Al.

“One day we were sat having our dinner and he looked at me and said, you are my wife, aren’t you? And I laughed and said of course I am! I still didn’t grasp that he was really asking, that he really didn’t know me.”

Click here to listen to part 1.

Click here to listen to part 2.

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November: Men’s Health Awareness Month – Bryan’s story

Being responsible for the day-to-day care of a loved one puts an incredible strain on a carer’s wellbeing. A recent survey by Carers’ UK revealed 72 percent of carers suffered poor mental health and 61 percent were affected physically due to the stresses of their caring role.

With November being Men’s Health Awareness Month I was curious to know how many carers are men and what impact did caring have on their health.

According to research carried out by the Carers Trust and Men’s Health Forum, more than four in 10 (42 %) of the UK’s unpaid carers are male. Fifty-six percent of male carers aged 18-64 said being a carer had a negative impact on their mental health while 55% said that their health was “fair or poor”.

Bryan was lonely after his wife moved in to a care home, but now he enjoys regular days out with the  Carers’ Centre.

Bryan is just one of the many male carers who has benefited from the Carers’ Centre’s support and well-being programme.

His wife, Jill, was diagnosed with vascular dementia and after caring for her for nearly two years, she is now in a care home, where he regularly visits.

He said: “Once Jill had gone into the home, our house became very quiet and the  evenings were extremely long.”

Bryan found he was filling his days and nights with  the TV and radio as he didn’t want to burden his family.

He said:  “I can ring the family, but I don’t want to disturb them after about half past seven, eight o’clock at night, so it became long and a little bit boring. Time can hang lonely and you can get used to being on your own and you can isolate yourself from other people.”

Continue reading

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Carers’ Centre Volunteer Cafe – An audience with Television Writer Ray Brooking

A new initiative at the Carers’ Centre is the Volunteer Cafe, where volunteers have the chance to meet and chat over cake and coffee and hear from a program of local speakers.

To get the ball rolling, the Carers’ Centre invited award-winning television screenwriter and Clevedon resident Ray Brooking to give a talk about his 24 year career working on some of the biggest shows in popular drama.

As well as writing for The Bill, Casualty and EastEnders, Ray has also been on the writing team of WPC 56 and been nominated for an RTS award for BBC1s “Doctors” for which he has written over a hundred episodes.

Initially inspired by his love of comic books, Ray talked about his childhood watching shows such as “Z Cars” and “Juliet Bravo”, and the excitement of seeing his first episode of “The Bill” screened in 1995.

He also explained the pleasures and frustrations of working with limited time, sets and actors and the ingenuity required to weave his own plots into pre-existing formats.

“It’s the plotting I love, ” he said, “taking a simple idea and developing it to its full potential, there’s nothing like it.”

Ray’s next episode of “Doctors”,  “Empty Arms” will be screened at 1.45pm on BBC1 on Wednesday 30th October 2019

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