According 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→
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!
February is drawing to a close and the nation is divided on the issue of health – while some people have tried and failed to lose weight in the New Year, others have given up their favourite treats for lent. New fads to improve health seem to emerge every week, but for carers, it can be difficult to keep up.
According to the latest census, carers providing regular, unpaid care for their loved ones are twice as likely to have poorer health compared to non-carers, and almost 700,000 carers reported their health as ‘not good’. A further 35% of carers looking after someone for 20 hours or more reported having a limiting longstanding illness.
While the rest of the nation struggle with their increasing waistlines, we have a service specifically to help carers with their health. Jane and Kath (our Community Activators) have been working for three years to help carers gain confidence and lose weight, and they are continuing to improve the health and wellbeing of carers through breaks, activities and one-to-one meetings for another six months.
Kath and Jane provide personalised help and advice on what exercise might suit you best and special nutritional tips to get you healthy and happy. Their advice has helped over 500 carers and we’re grateful for all the work they’ve done so far – we can’t wait to see how many more carers they will help in the next few months!
Kath and Jane’s next project is getting people on board and ready to take part in the Carers’ Centre’s sponsored walk on Sunday 5th June, to celebrate our 20th birthday. The walk, kicking off Carers’ Week 2016, aims to raise awareness of carers and the issues they face in our community as well as funds for the centre. Kath and Jane will be running weekly walking groups in the coming months to prepare our carers for our trek through the Two Tunnels, so if you fancy raising money for the Carers Centre, please join us!!
Today’s post was written by one of our carers, Fiona Carr, who cares for her husband John.
‘Would you and John like to represent the Carers’ Centre at an Award Ceremony in London next week as a guest of the BANES Care Commissioning Group?’ Janine asked me. I immediately replied that of course I would, as I am always happy to promote the work of the Carers’ Centre. It was only when Janine emailed me details of the event that I realised that it was a Black Tie event to be held at The Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. The event I learnt was going to be hosted by the Health Service Journal. I frantically tried on my evening gown and John his dinner jacket to check that they still fitted. Well, it has been quite a while since we had last wore them.
Then the doubts started. My husband John is disabled following a massive stroke. How are we going to cope at such an event with over 800 people attending? How are we going to get around London? Will people understand John who now has difficulty speaking? But as the Japanese proverb says, fear is only as deep as the mind allows, so off to London we went.
Not only did we manage, we had the time of our lives. Getting around London was easily solved by using taxis. When we arrived at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Clive the Head of Security took us under his wings. Throughout the night he went out of his way to make sure we were OK. When we joined the ladies from the BANES Care Commissioning Group we were greeted like long lost friends.
Unfortunately we did not win an award but it was wonderful to hear about all the work that has been going on throughout the country to support Carers. The Health Service Journal had set up a Twitter page for the event, so I enjoyed using my recently acquired Twitter skills (learnt by attending a course at the Carers’ Centre) to tweet my appreciation to them.
As part of BANES Council’s Active Lifestyles team, Jane and Kath deliver a range of services to increase the health and well-being of carers. They perform health checks which measure the individual health risks of each carer and help find the right activities to suit carers and their lifestyles.
This amazing service really helps carers, as Adelaide Tiley tells us; “since I started with Jane I’ve really improved. My self-confidence has gone up, I’ve lost weight, and am more active. I want to go out and do things and I feel like I can”. Adelaide cares for husband Brian, who has also seen a positive change – “A couple of weeks ago she told me she was going out for a walk on her own. She would have never done that in the past…it’s a big change for the better”.
Due to all their hard work improving the health and wellbeing of carers we felt it was only right to give Jane and Kath our ‘Partner of the Year’ award at our Celebrating Carers event earlier this year. It’s so encouraging to see that carers benefit so much from a service like this – even better, Jane is running a break in February which all carers can come to! Why not join her for a walk through the two tunnels?
For details on the ramble with Jane Harvey or for more information on health checks, please ring the Carers Centre at 0800 0388 885
News and views from Bath North East Somerset Carers Centre