As you hopefully will know, as avid readers of this blog, we help run a Carer Hub information point at the Bath Royal United Hospital. We do this in conjunction with Carers Support Wiltshire, Friends of the RUH and the RUH NHS Trust.
Recently we heard from a carer who was introduced to our service via the Hub and think her story is worth sharing. She captures a lot of the thoughts and feelings that we come across so often when talking to people looking after someone. Read on to hear from Kathryn, a carer from Radstock:
“I’ve been caring for my mum for 5 ½ years now, since my father passed away. She’s 91 years old and has been in and out of hospital on and off, for around 5 months now, it’s been very stressful. She is now back at home. I worry so much about her and feel that I never do enough and that I should be doing more. She lives independently, and wants to remains so, but fortunately lives within a 30 second walk from my house. I feel guilty about having time away from her, but luckily I have a very supportive husband who is also very kind and caring to mum, having cared for his parents for many years.
“I was visiting mum in the RUH, Midford Ward, when approached by a Carer Hub volunteer. She asked which area I lived in and handed me a BANES Carers information leaflet. Up until that point I had been unaware of the organisation. I read the leaflet and realised that I could benefit from the wonderful things that were offered, and if other carers could do these things then so could I!
“I registered online and quickly received the newsletter and welcome pack. I registered mum’s details and medications etc. with the Carers’ Centre and carry an emergency card, knowing that if anything happens to me, emergency services will be informed and mum will be taken care of.
“From the newsletter I applied to attend a Carers’ day at Ammerdown in September and was so happy to be accepted. I had a broken leg at the time and was on crutches so transport to and from Ammerdown was also kindly arranged for me. It was so good to meet people in the same position as me. It was interesting to hear that we all shared the same emotions of helplessness, sadness, joy, despair, guilt etc. It was so reassuring to know that my feelings were also felt by everyone that I spoke to. It somehow made me feel less alone.
“In October I joined other carers on a visit to the Museum of Fashion in Bath, for a guided tour. There weren’t many of us, but it was a very interesting morning and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I still had mobility problems and once again, transport was arranged. We had a coffee and a chat before the tour started, again a lovely way to meet other people in the same position as me.
“At the end of October I had the first of two craniosacral massage sessions at the Carers’ Centre in Radstock. This is the first time I’ve been to The centre, I didn’t even know where the building was although I’ve lived in the area for many years. The massage was wonderful, I enjoyed every moment, and I’m very much looking forward to the second session later this week. I felt very relaxed for the first time in a very long while. My contact with The centre, prior to this visit, had always been via email.
“Before meeting your volunteer at the RUH, I would not really have considered myself a carer. It’s a role that develops without you realising it. Gradually you take on more and more responsibility until you end up doing everything for the person you care for to ensure their happiness, safety and wellbeing. Looking back, I realise that I cut my own working hours as the responsibility of caring for mum increased and my own personal time for leisure activities, or even just to spend a whole evening in my own home, decreased. I feel that no one else could care for my mum in the way that I do, and that I need to be available for her at all times, these feelings lead to very high stress levels and I know that I really need to relax more. I’m 60 years old now and feel very weighed down with everything at the moment.”
Since Kathryn’s testimonial we’ve invited her to join a local coffee morning in Radstock to help her feel more connected with her community.