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!
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
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole week since our last Arts Award meeting with our amazing Young Carers! This fortnightly art club takes place at Woodlands and allows Young Carers aged 5-11 to explore loads of different creative mediums, including photography, clay modelling and painting.
As usual, there was a whirlwind of noise and glitter with our young carers chatting away about their Christmas while drawing what presents they got in the holidays. Once again the kids had a good laugh at my drawing skills (which even I admit are non-existent) before we had a break, where the kids enjoyed a huge game of hangman.
Then we got started on our latest project – designing a calendar which will go on sale in 2017. The kids will spent all year perfecting 12 pictures, one for each month of the year. It was so cool to see the kids enthuse about what colours they could use and design the coolest looking ‘January trees’ I’ve ever seen. The best part of this project is that next Saturday we’re taking the kids on a trip to the forest to capture some pictures of trees in January, to practice their photography skills and get some cool pictures for the calendar.
Sometimes as adults it’s easy to forget how tiny things like a game of hangman with your friends, a walk through the forest or the chance to draw freely can be so great, and it’s always lovely to see Young Carers in particular having this much fun, especially given their tough home lives. Their resilience always amazes me and makes me want to work with them even more. Can’t wait for next week’s session!
In our most recent Annual Survey, many carers requested information about the Care Act 2014; a new piece of legislation all about carers and who they look after. Last week, Carers Centre staff all took part in Care Act training, to ensure our knowledge is up to date.
The Care Act 2014 aims to improve the rights, appreciation and wellbeing of carers in the UK. An interesting goal of the Care Act is the achievement of good wellbeing for every carer. The policy is very person-focused, meaning the independence, freedom and happiness of each carer is a big priority in the Care Act. Wellbeing is a current political buzzword and a hugely important thing to aspire to, but as a concept it is hard to define. As a result, the Care Act introduces specific rights to wellbeing; something that is inherently unspecific. It’s almost trying to bring universal rights to something that is very personal.
One of these rights is the entitlement to a carer’s assessment if you are seen to have a need for one. Currently, you have to provide ‘regular and substantial’ care to receive an assessment, but the new Care Act means the amount of care is almost irrelevant. If the local authority thinks you need an assessment then it is now your right to receive one. The training was very informative but it was exhausting to get our heads around! There’s so much legal jargon to understand and endless bits of paper to grapple with. However, it was great to learn more about it, and I can’t wait to see how it shapes the lives of carers in the coming months.
Twelve weeks ago, we officially opened the Carer Hub at the RUH in Bath. The Hub is located in the atrium of the hospital and is manned by trained volunteers every weekday. The Hub is a great way to meet new carers and inform people about what we offer at BANES Carer’s Centre.
Many people who enter the RUH leave with a devastating diagnosis that will change their lives forever – but what of the loved ones who accompanied them? There is so much support for people receiving bad news, but often their family members can feel lost, confused or lonely. They may enter the RUH carefree and leave as a carer, unsure of what to do next.
The Carer Hub is there to help.
Volunteers at the Carer Hub can talk to people becoming carers for the first time about what support is on offer for them in BANES. They can also signpost people to external organisations and provide a network of support for a carer who may feel lost and alone. Additionally, the Hub demonstrates the RUH’s commitment to helping carers and making sure they feel supported.
The Hub has faced some challenges – mainly that people assume it is just another seating area rather than a designated space for carers! However, the Hub is becoming increasingly popular with carers using the hospital, as it is a permanent place for carers to visit us if they need to. Volunteers have also said they’ve had many powerful and poignant interactions with carers. This is a great encouragement and we hope the success of the Carer Hub increases even more in 2016.
News and views from Bath North East Somerset Carers Centre