Tag Archives: family

Hear from a carer about their journey with dementia — guest post

Steve Hynd writes about his family’s journey with dementia. Reposted with permission from Steve’s blog.

Steve’s mum Jackie with her favourite cow, Emblem.

Yesterday was my mum’s funeral, the end of a long journey that started many years ago. Its initial stages were played out behind the scenes, out of sight, deep inside my mum’s mind. Unknown to any of us, friends or family, the 100 billion or so neurons in my mum’s brain started a countdown. These neurons in her brain threw out neurological branches that connected to more than 100 trillion points, allowing for thoughts and memories to be formed and recalled. Slowly, and completely silently, this number started to drop. With no fanfare, an incredibly awful and utterly incurable process began that would only begin to show itself years later.

When it did show itself, it did so relatively innocuously. It was the odd repeated question, the occasional double take, the subtlest of shifts away from engaging in conversation.

The science behind Alzheimer’s tells us that the areas of the brain most commonly affected early on are those that are used for learning and planning. I remember patiently sitting with my mum trying to explain to her how to use her new mobile phone. The simplest instructions seemingly lost in the seconds following the conversation. In retrospect I can see the folly of trying to explain, and reexplain, something new to my mum. That I failed to mitigate my own behaviour, let alone expectations, to allow for the early onset dementia is both something I regret, and something that makes me feel embarrassed.

How unequipped I was to support my mum in those initial stages leaves a deeper sadness in me now than the ending of her story. She was preparing for one of the hardest journeys of her life, and I turned up with no shoes to walk in, maps to direct me or rations to sustain us. I was woefully ill-equipped.

Continue reading Hear from a carer about their journey with dementia — guest post

Join us for our Sponsored Walk!

To mark the start of National Carers Week, we at BANES Carers Centre are holding our first ever sponsored walk on Sunday, 5th June. The walk starts at 11am and will take our carers through the mysteries of the Two Tunnels, all the way to the Hope and Anchor in Midford, where our walkers can reward themselves with a pub lunch.

We have 4.5 or 9 mile options so the walkers can pick a route that’s best for them. Walkers can register as individuals or a whole family – our only ask is that they try and raise £50 in sponsorship money, though is just a goal, not a requirement! “Obviously we’d love to raise as much as possible but we also want people to get involved with their community,” says Janine, our Senior Development Manager.

Continue reading Join us for our Sponsored Walk!

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/

Family Time: Bath City Farm

The beautiful view surrounding our carers as they enjoyed Meeting the Romans at Bath City Farm
The beautiful view surrounding our carers as they enjoyed Meeting the Romans at Bath City Farm

Last week, carer families had the chance to have a break when we took them to ‘Meet the Romans’ at Bath City Farm. We were blessed with amazing sunshine and a beautiful view over the rolling hills of the city.

Once we were in the farm, our carers explored what life was like in a Roman Bath. The children got to create mosaics, make sundials, eat Roman food, see real-life artefacts and even chat to a Roman Gladiator. Then our carers had a fantastic time exploring the farm and seeing all the animals. The pygmy goats were a definite favourite but I personally loved Rufus, the Gloucester Old Spot boar!

After all this sightseeing, we stopped for a spot of lunch at the fabulous Trough café. The Carers’ Centre provided each family member with a £5 food voucher to make our families lives that little bit easier. We all enjoyed looking at the Bath landscape as we ate, and all felt really lucky to be there on such a lovely day!

As always, it’s so great that we as a Centre can treat carers to a fun day out as a family. Having the chance to get out in the sunshine and do something different like meet the Romans is worth so much to carers, and it’s wonderful to know we’re helping to relieve their caring role, even if it’s just for a few hours. Bath City Farm had so many fun activities on offer, and the carers really got a lot out of the day.

Planning our Family Day activities can be challenging, but the hard work always pays off once we see the smile on the faces of a family caring full-time. We had a blast at Bath City Farm and can’t wait for the next activity – hope to see some of you there!

Shining a Light on our Amazing Carers

A relieved Katy after her 10,000ft skydive!
A relieved Katy after her 10,000ft skydive!

At The Carers’ Centre, we aim to shine a light and give a voice to carers who often go unnoticed in society. Carers perform an inspirational role and sacrifice so much when they look after someone, and we are constantly amazed by their resilience and bravery. This blog post aims to highlight just a few of the wonderful things our carers have achieved.

In July 2015, Katy did a Skydive for us, helping to raise over £1000 for the centre. These funds helped to buy our Woodlands centre, providing a permanent home for carers in BANES. The following month, one of our carers Tracey was featured on ITV’s Lorraine, speaking with her husband Paul about his early-onset Alzheimer’s. In October it was a delight to name Tracey (along with Becky and Jennie) as an ‘Unsung Hero’ for her bravery and determination.

Featuring in our latest edition of CareTime, Donna Smith cares for her four grandchildren and lost 30lbs in 30 weeks through our Community Activator programme. She now feels happier and healthier thanks to Jane and Kath, and leads a more active life.

Many of our carers feel empowered enough to start businesses, managing work around their caring role and turning a hobby into profit. Some carers even bring their creations to our biannual Craft Fayres, helping to raise money for the Centre as well as for themselves.

Other carers use their confidence and initiative to set up groups, both at our Centres and within their local communities. For instance Jayne saw a need for a support group at her child’s school, and now runs a regular group for up to fifty parents. Meanwhile, at our Bath centre, Bev runs a regular support group for carers of people with challenging mental health conditions.

These wonderful people prove how determined carers can be, and that despite having complex home lives, they are willing to give back to the community. We’re so grateful for all their hard work and determination and can’t wait to see them all soon!

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.

‘January Trees’ – Our latest Arts Award evening

art-therapy-career2It’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!

Family Time: Bath on Ice

Our Young Carers officer Steve enjoying the ice - he was surprisingly good!
Our Young Carers officer Steve enjoying the ice – he was surprisingly good!

Our carers were dancing on blades of glory as we took eight families to ‘Bath on Ice’; the temporary ice rink in Victoria Park this weekend.

Every carer had a different response to their first foray onto the ice. Some kids couldn’t wait to get going while others looked terrified – luckily many of them had penguins to help their balance. Meanwhile the anxious adults seemed to doubt their decision to skate, with one father looking at me as if to say “What have I let myself in for – and why have I agreed to an hour of it?!”

As we expected, there were lots of tumbles, with every carer falling over at least once. Luckily the stewards at Bath on Ice were quick to help and before long they were on their feet again. Many got up enough confidence to brave it alone and a few even managed some fancy footwork, which was great fun to watch!

When finished, our carers were delighted to go from ice back to solid ground. The children asked to go again while parents nursed newly-made bruises! However, everyone seemed to have a great time, and there were smiles all round. In our feedback forms, all families said they’d had a great time and the only downside of the trip was falling over so much!

Trips like these take a lot of planning but it’s all worth it to see families having fun and I can’t wait for our next Family Time adventure!