Tag Archives: carer

Sophie’s Story: ‘I believed I was a bad parent’

Sophie shares her experience as a parent carer.

“I’ve been on my own with my son since day one. I always found him hard work, right from the beginning. I thought it was because I was a rubbish parent and just not really cut out for it.

“When Kenzo was five his behaviour really deteriorated. He became verbally and physically abusive. Every single day he was hitting, kicking, spitting, biting, shouting, and screaming under tables at the adults at school.

“This lead to a couple of years of a really terrible time at the school. Weekly meetings; constant exclusions; visits from educational psychologists. The headmaster – along with multiple other professionals – told me I was a bad parent and I’d spoilt him, that it was all my fault.

I believed them – they were people who supposedly
knew what they were talking about.”

This, along with a very stressful full-time job with its own problems, and the anxiety and depression Sophie has dealt with since her teens, lead to what she now considers a breakdown.

“I couldn’t cope. I reached that point where – and I’m saying this as a proud person – I was just asking everyone and anyone for help.  And once I took that step it was like the floodgates opened. Once I had
made that change from being private and proud and ‘coping’, to realising that I just wasn’t, I recognised that it’s more important to get help than keep struggling on.”

Continue reading Sophie’s Story: ‘I believed I was a bad parent’

Living Well with Dementia

Ruth Maurice_edAccording to the Alzheimer’s Society, about two thirds of people living with dementia in the UK are living at home – usually with the support of a relative or friend who is their carer.

Looking after someone with dementia – the umbrella term for degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s – can be incredibly upsetting, isolating and painful. But there is help, support and understanding available that can make things a little easier to cope with.

Founder of Singing for the Brain, Chreanne Montgomery-Smith, said “people hear and read so much about dementia in terms of a decline and the progression of symptoms – that is by far the overwhelming narrative – but people with dementia show us every day that it is possible to live well and to have a progression of hope.”

Ruth Holbrook, who looks after her husband Maurice (both pictured above) has been involved with the Carers’ Centre and other local services since Maurice’s diagnosis. Because Ruth had worked in health and social care, she knew what support was available. Continue reading Living Well with Dementia

A day in the life of…The Senior Carers’ Support Officer

Our Senior Carers' Support Officer, Tom
Our Senior Carers’ Support Officer, Tom

I do a bit of everything: in terms of supporting carers I offer advice over the phone, as well as visiting them at home for longer support planning sessions.

Having been a carer myself, for multiple people, I know how tough it can be, often with no reward.

This understanding enables empathy, whilst being able to discuss the challenging aspects of being a carer: they may not have acknowledged or be struggling with the more complex feelings of guilt, anger or sadness, be it with anyone else or even to themselves. A good example of this is recognising that you can’t ‘fix’ the person you care for, and that’s ok; or coping with the effects of dementia on a loved one: you end up grieving twice. Grief in itself is a whole other ballgame…

I also work with a group of carers delivering training at Bath University. We teach Social Work Students the importance of carers, how to support them and treat them as expert partners. Leading on from this, I have been out in the community for the past couple of years raising awareness of what a carer is and encouraging agencies to refer to the Carers’ Centre. The most people I spoke to was 100, but even speaking to one person is worthwhile as they will tell one person, who will tell two people, and so on.

I also manage a team of people here at the centre. This brings its own challenges, but none have sued me for distress yet so I must be doing something right…

– Tom

Giving Something Back: Trudy’s Story

Trudy with husband Mark
Trudy with husband Mark

Trudy cares for her husband Mark, who has a hereditary eye condition and is registered blind. For many years Trudy “just got on” with caring for Mark, but eventually struggled with her own emotional and physical wellbeing. Trudy says “I felt like I didn’t matter because Mark was the one who was suffering” – but many carers find that when their wellbeing suffers, their ability to care also suffers. Thankfully her GP referred her to our centre, where Trudy received support from our Community Activator service.

Trudy worked with our Community Activators for three months and saw a decrease in her weight and blood pressure. She says “the main thing was realising that I was not alone – the Carers’ Centre really helped me to know that other people were going through something similar”. This one-to-one support even helped Trudy’s confidence, and eventually she felt able to attend breaks run by the Carers’ Centre. Trudy says; “Mark has had a great deal of support and training from Blind Veterans UK. Now I am able to leave him at home and meet my friends again or go shopping without having to worry so much.”

Now that her confidence and wellbeing has improved, Trudy doesn’t just attend breaks with the Carers’ Centre: she often helps out at events and talks. She says; “I want to give something back to the Carers’ Centre as they have done so much for me”. Trudy volunteered to help at our last Craft Fayre in November and most recently lent a hand at our fundraising concert. She also regularly delivers talks to the social work students at Bath University so they can understand the realities of being a carer and volunteers at the RUH Carer Hub, providing support and advice for fellow carers.

Trudy’s devotion to give something back is always so inspiring and we’re so grateful for all of her hard work!

Spring is in the Air

photo 1With the days are getting longer and coats getting left at home more often, it’s safe to say that spring is definitely in the air. This is great news for the Carers’ Centre – with our summer programme in the pipeline, we can start planning more and more breaks to take place in our beautiful garden, or outside in the rolling countryside of BANES.

Last spring saw our carers explore Bath, Bristol and beyond, as we held trips to Bristol Zoo, Ston Easton Park, Ammerdown and the Royal Crescent. We also held educational breaks, like our photography course at Bath City Farm and ‘Gardens Are Good For You’, which taught carers essential gardening techniques to help their gardens look fresh and bright for the summer. These breaks were well received and Jane (our senior wellbeing officer) is planning more fun activities as we speak.

Tomorrow our wonderful garden volunteers will meet, and hopefully enjoy their work more now that the rain is stopping – at least it was stopping when we wrote this blog post! On April 16th our carers will go foraging for plants to make delicious and nutritious soups and salads, and on Saturday, 7th May some adventurous carers will join Jane Harvey on a ramble through Chew Valley, in a beautiful walk that combines gorgeous scenery with some light exercise and is great for carers of all ages.

Aside from all of this, there’s no better way to celebrate the darling buds of May than joining us for our Spring Craft Fayre, also taking place on Saturday, 7th May. The Fayre is from 10am-2pm and will be held at our Woodlands centre on the Lower Bristol Road. After two successful Craft Fayres in 2015, we’re hoping Spring 2016 will be even bigger and better. There’ll be live entertainment, children’s activities and some homemade refreshments, so please join us to have fun and raise some money for the Carers’ Centre!

Read more about our Spring fayre on our website: https://www.banescarerscentre.org.uk/help-us-fundraise/may-craft-fayre/

Hearing the Unheard: Our Carers Voice Meetings

VoiceAt The Carers Centre, the voice of the carer is at the heart of everything we do. Feedback is vital to our organisation and we’re always asking carers for their opinions on our service. As well as giving carers the chance to get their voice heard within the Carers’ Centre (which helps us shape future services) we also want to get the voice of carers heard within their local communities.

Thanks to some funding from Comic Relief, we are now able to set up a Carer Voice group which will meet every three months, at our Bath and Radstock centres. Our CEO and project leader Sonia Hutchison says it’s great that “carers can get together to influence the Carers’ Centre and local services”.

Yesterday was the first of these Carer Voice groups, meeting at Radstock in the morning and Bath in the evening. I attended these meetings for about half an hour to conduct a group interview for my support group project, asking carers what they would like the Carers’ Centre to offer them. It was a great opportunity to talk about the project and I gained some fantastic ideas from the carers.

What struck me most was the atmosphere of the group; that these carers were not seeking to complain about services, but instead wanted to give constructive feedback on how we could be even better. It’s great to have the chance to speak to them about what they want, and all we can do is try and implement their ideas as best we can.

You’ve Got A Friend In Me

_MG_3446 elderly female carer holding hand of husband_smlLoneliness is a growing problem in the UK, with more and more elderly people facing daily isolation. AgeUK reports that more than 2 million people aged over-75 live alone and over 1 million elderly people go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. For carers, this isolation can be even worse – the Carers’ Trust say that 83% of carers feel lonely or isolated because of their caring role. The survey also found that 55% of carers felt that they were unable to get out of the house because of their caring responsibilities, while 45% can’t afford to take part in social activities.

Caring for someone day in, day out can be exhausting and emotionally draining. With few support networks for carers around and a lack of people who can empathise, carers often feel they can’t speak to anyone about their problems. We at the Carers’ Centre want to help. That’s why we’re launching our new telephone befriending programme, which should be in full swing by the end of the month.

The telephone befriending service will enable volunteers to speak to carers on the phone every few weeks to see how they’re doing. Andy Graham, our volunteering co-ordinator and lead on the project, has been training our volunteers in telephone befriending. They will start this work in the coming weeks, to the delight of many carers. “Befriending has been shown to be a very helpful, very simple solution to ongoing isolation and loneliness”, Andy says. Many of the befrienders are carers themselves, which we’re hoping will bring a more personal touch to the service. We can’t wait for this project underway and see how many carers we can help.

If you’d like to be a volunteer befriender and help a carer in need, please call the Carers’ Centre on 01761 431388.

Our Support Group Project

Abstract green waveFeedback from our carers is essential for all the work we do here at the Carers Centre. If we didn’t speak to carers about what they like and don’t like about our services, we wouldn’t know the best way of shaping and creating services in the future. From phone calls with carers to giving out feedback forms during breaks, we listen to carers in everything we do.

A key way we get feedback about our services from carers is through our Annual Survey, which asks carers about their engagement with our service and if there’s anything they would change. Last year some carers wanted more regular contact with us, to gain a personal service. To address this, we’re reinstating our befriending service, which comes into force this month.

This shows our determination to include carer views in everything we do, and use their feedback to create better services for the future.

Our new project is no different.

At the Carers Centre, we currently have five support groups on offer, but we’re looking to expand this to help even more carers. We’re holding interviews in March to discuss what support groups carers want and how they should be organised. In the meantime, we’ve made an online questionnaire asking our carers for their views on support groups which can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GLP9WH7. If you’re a carer with something to say then I need your help!

If you’re a carer and would like more information or want to get involved in the project, please contact BANES Carers Centre on 01761 431388 or email holly.turrell@banescarerscentre.org.uk. 

My Young Carer Story

MeeeeeeeeeLast Thursday was National Young Carers Awareness Day, which aimed to raise awareness of our amazing YCs and the unseen work they do every day. Last week we highlighted Joe Lomax, one of our fab YCs. This week, our blog takes a more personal tone, because I want to tell you my story.

My brother is funny and has the biggest smile of anyone I know. He is also severely autistic and has very limited communication skills. When I was younger, this was really hard for me, as I didn’t understand his disability or why he acts the way he does. Additionally, no one at school was in my situation, so I often felt lonely, and like I couldn’t relate to anyone.

Luckily, an amazing Young Carers service really helped me out. I was referred there by a social worker who felt I needed to be with children in a similar situation to myself. She was absolutely right, and that group helped me get out of the house and meet other children in tough circumstances.

I’ve worked at the CC for about seven months and I love my role. I run the YC Twitter account, organise this blog, and I’m currently researching support groups. However, my favourite thing about working here is helping kids with difficult home lives, just like I had at that age. Even simple things like taking them to the cinema or running an art club gives them the chance to relax and have fun. It’s always so great to put a smile on their faces and help a charity like the one that kept me going when I was their age.

National Young Carers Awareness Day – 28th Jan

Joe in our Carers Centre garden
Joe in our Carers Centre garden

Tomorrow is National Young Carers Awareness Day, a national event aiming to inform the UK of who young carers are and the hidden struggles they face every day. Therefore today, we want to highlight one of our brilliant young carers, who we named our Young Carer of the Year 2015.

Seventeen-year-old Joe Lomax is the main carer for his mum, who suffers with chronic back pain. Joe manages to provide this care while attending college and looking for part time work. This isn’t all: he is becoming increasingly involved in our Young Carers service, acting as a fantastic role model for other young people. Joe’s friendliness, warmth and compassion means he always welcomes new Young Carers with a smile.

During the Young Carers ‘Big Day Out’ trip in August, Joe provided hands on help for the YC team, assisting the youngest boys to build rafts and row boats, while also organising the children effectively. At our bike workshop later that summer, Joe spoke to various trustees about the work he was doing to the bikes, providing an informative and funny description of the day’s events. They were really impressed, which helped their decision to fund more Young Carers activities in the New Year.

Joe is one of our most popular Young Carers and a true example of how amazing these young people are. It was an honour to award him our Young Carer of the Year 2015 and we can’t wait to see him again this year!

Young Carers Awareness Day is on Thursday 28th January – please get involved or donate to support Young Carers like Joe. You can find more information from The Carers Trust here: https://www.carers.org/young-carers-awareness-day