Category Archives: Carer Stories

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.

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

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

Carer Conversations Session 3: Dee

Dee cares for her grandmother, who has dementia, as well as her son who suffered a brain injury following an accident. Here she talks about the differences in her caring roles and how she manages her family life — generally with a sense of humour.

“I think humour is the best way to cope with most things… you’ve got to laugh otherwise you might cry.”

Click here to hear Dee’s Carer Conversation.

Understanding ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Children and adults who have ADHD find it difficult to concentrate and focus.

October is ADHD Awareness Month

“He has issues” my sister used to say when I asked about my young nephew.  She never went into detail what the issues were but his hyperactivity was excused as “his father was hyper when he was a boy.”

However my nephew’s issues became more apparent at the age of six when he started school.  The reports of impulsive outbursts were interspersed with bouts of inability to focus or comprehend what he was being told or what he had read. But again that was pushed to the side by my sister because “he could focus when he was interested.” And yes, he could spend hours with his collection of Star Wars figures, Pokemon cards and video games.

It wasn’t until this year when he turn 18 and that my sister decided to have him tested. Throughout his 12 years of schooling he had always had extra tutoring, but when he failed to score high enough on an exam to get into university, she needed another excuse.

When we spoke, she didn’t say he had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) but said:  “He has trouble with his executive functions.” That meant nothing to me until I saw the documentary ADHD: Not Just for Kids.

It was then I learnt more about ADHD which is defined as a complex neuro-biological disorder that interferes with a person’s executive functions. This includes focus, memory, organisation, and regulating emotions. This is something that you don’t outgrow but symptoms can become less obvious as people age. An adult may not be hyperactive, but still have an inability to concentrate.

The more I read about ADHD, I thought: “I have that”…as I’d experienced similar symptoms while growing up as I was shy, withdrawn and liked to daydream and now  going through menopause, and bouts of  anxiety and depression I found it hard to focus, remember things and my emotions were totally erratic.  However, everyone has trouble occasionally with some of the traditional ADHD symptoms, but for people with the disorder, it can interfere in their everyday life. 

Thankfully now my nephew is getting help with coping strategies, such as regular exercise, practising mindfulness and regulating his sleep patterns.

ADHD affects 4.4 per cent of adults and is usually diagnosed earlier in boys than in girls.  Boys are typically more hyperactive and easier to spot, leaving many young girls and woman undiagnosed. Many girls aren’t hyperactive but are easily distracted and have a hard time concentrating.  They are usually the daydreamers that sit at the back of the classroom. Girls with ADHD are more likely to be diagnosed later in life and are vulnerable to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

This information got me to thinking about someone I know. In her mid-30s, she portrays a shy, withdrawn “little girl” image and I reasoned it was because she is an introvert. It was then suggested by a mother whose daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD that perhaps she is “on the spectrum”.  Suddenly the penny dropped. No longer did I think she’s just wanting attention, and I could view her situation which compassion.  I only wish I understood about the levels of ADHD earlier on, as it would have helped me relate better with her and others.

So as October is ADHD Awareness month, let’s dispel a few myths about the disorder.

ADHD is not an illness: ADHD is a neuro-biologically-based disorder that’s the result of an imbalance of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. Simply put, those with ADHD have brains that are wired differently.

ADHD is not caused by bad parenting. It can be genetic with children having more than a 50 per cent chance of inheriting ADHD from their parents. It can also be caused by neurological factors such as pregnancy complications, brain damage, and prenatal exposure to toxins, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Too much “screen time, ”  junk food and sugar isn’t to blame either. This has been linked to many other problems in childhood such as inactivity, obesity, and poor nutrition,  but there is no strong evidence that these cause ADHD which is also not an excuse for laziness.

Not everyone displays the same ADHD symptoms which can include a spectrum of issues from inattentiveness to hyperactivity or impulsiveness.  Only when the symptoms are numerous and severe enough do doctors make a diagnosis of ADHD. 

If you are caring for a child or adult with ADHD, the Carers’ Centre is here to help.  And for more support groups specifically on ADHD in the BANES area click here . For more information on ADHD in the UK check out The ADHD Foundation.

We’d like for you to share your story as together we grow! If you care for someone with ADHD or have been diagnosed with ADHD, please comment on this blog or email me at carmen.cooper@banescarerscentre.org.uk.

Carer Conversations Session 2: Immie & Bassie

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

September means back to school and we’re thinking about the young carers who maybe didn’t get so much of a break over the summer as their peers. Young carers can face a very challenging time at home with ill, disabled or frail relatives, struggling with sleep, managing homework, or keeping up with friends.

In this Carer Conversations session, two young people share their powerful stories. Bassie tells of the confidence he’s gained by getting involved with his local young carers service. And Immie shares her experience of being a young carer in school and the heartbreaking challenges she faced. Click the links below to listen.

“I couldn’t physically get her up from the floor. She had a concussion… And no one stopped to help.”

Bassie talks about gaining confidence

Immie shares her young carer experience

Carer Conversations Session 1: Jayne Part 2

Last week we heard from Jayne about the challenges she faced caring for her mum, who has dementia. She said she felt like their roles had reversed and she had becoming the ‘nagging mother’, asking her mum to tidy up or cut her nails. Her friend Allie helped her by coming in and cleaning the house so her mum still felt like she had her independence.

Listen in to the second half of the conversation where Jayne talks about coping with emotional fallout.

Jayne & Allie Part 3
Jayne, Allie & Carmen (Part 4)

Carer Conversations Session 1: Jayne

Listen in to a conversation between Jayne, who cares for her mum, and her friend Allie. Jayne talks about the struggles of looking after her mum, who has been diagnosed with Dementia.

Jayne’s mother won’t let her clean the house.

“It came to a head at Christmas when I pulled back [mum’s] bed and it was brown. I knew I couldn’t let it go on any longer,”

Her friend, Allie, offers to help.

Jayne & Allie Part 1
Jayne & Allie Part 2

Come back next week for more Carer Conversations.

“Before I met your volunteer, I wouldn’t have considered myself a carer”

Some Carer Hub cakes made for a special event.

The Carers’ Centre is involved with the 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.

We heard from a carer who was introduced to our service via the Hub. She captures a lot of the thoughts and feelings that we come across so often when talking to people looking after someone. In Kathryn’s words: 

“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!  Continue reading “Before I met your volunteer, I wouldn’t have considered myself a carer”

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