Tag Archives: help

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

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

Our Fundraising Concert

The fabulous Jenny Peplow singers
The fabulous Jenny Peplow singers

A few weeks ago, the fabulous Jenny Peplow singers held a fundraising concert in Radstock for the Carers’ Centre. I got to attend as a spectator rather than a staff member, which meant I could relax as the volunteers did all the hard work! I also took my mum along, because all mums like a nice choir. We entered the venue to a sea of volunteers and thankfully, a room packed with eager audience members – some were carers that I recognised from my work at the Carers’ Centre which was lovely to see. Mum and I bought some raffle tickets and headed upstairs for a better view.

Soon, the choir came out, introduced by conductor Jenny Peplow. Dressed in black, the all-female choir looked so impressive, and when they started singing we all knew we were in for a fantastic evening. Covering our favourite pop and musical numbers in stunning three and four part harmonies, every voice of the 44-strong choir added something to the mix. My favourite song was a cover of ‘Jar of Hearts’ by Christina Perry, just because of the anger they managed to express while still sounding beautiful. However my mum started crying at “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ before they’d even started singing! Continue reading Our Fundraising Concert

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!

Join us for our Spring Craft Fayre!!

Some of the handmade delights that Deb will be selling at our Spring Craft Fayre
Some of the handmade delights that Deb will be selling at our Spring Craft Fayre

Spring is officially here and preparations are well underway for our third Craft Fayre here at the Carers Centre, on Saturday 7th May. Our Craft Fayres are a fantastic way to fundraise for the centre, as well as raise awareness of carers in the local community.

Our Craft Fayres also give carers the chance to make and sell their own products. Deb Frogley is one of the carers looking forward to selling her crafts at our 2016 Craft Fayre. She says; “I’ve been paper-crafting and scrapbooking for 6 or 7 years, after a friend got me into it. With crafting, I’ve been able to let loose, let myself make mistakes and know that not everything has to be ‘perfect’…in fact, bodges have often led to even better ideas!”

As a carer, it’s important for Deb to have a hobby that can help her cope with her caring role. “Being creative is part of my DNA (I’m a writer) and it keeps me balanced and sane!”, she says. “Craft and creativity are a huge release for me – but it’s only this year that I’ve taken the plunge and entered fairs, and BANES Carer’s will be my second!”.

Our previous craft fayres have been huge successes and we can’t wait to see what carers like Deb have to show us on the 7th May. Deb says; “I’m very much looking forward to it, and hope people will respond well to my handmade items”. We know they will Deb, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store!

If you’d like to buy some unique and handmade crafts, please join us on Saturday 7th May at our Bath Centre, from 10am-2pm. There’ll be a wide range of stalls, live entertainment, children’s activities, and homemade refreshments – it’s set to be a great day and we’d love you to join us!

Eight Months On: Our Information & Advice Service

dreamstimelarge_24720610Info-sign-RS

At the Carers’ Centre, we offer each carer the option of a personalised support planning session to ensure they are getting the right support with their caring role and to help identify what services would best help them. These sessions usually have a three week waiting time, and sometimes carers have questions that need answering more urgently. To meet this need, the Carers’ Centre also offers an Information and Advice Line, available on 0800 0388 885  from 10am-1pm each weekday.

This allows carers to ask quick questions or seek guidance on who can bets hep them with an issue. We can answer questions on a range of queries, including telecare, benefits, home aids and financing.

Carers tell us they appreciate getting a quick response and we aim to respond to enquires received outside of our the Line’s opening hours within 2 working days.

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.

We love our Community Activators!

Kath Hooper (middle) with her 'Partner of the Year' award
Kath Hooper (middle) with her ‘Partner of the Year’ award

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

Twelve weeks on: An update on the RUH Carer Hub

Some Carers Hub cakes made for our launch in September
Some Carers Hub cakes made for our launch in September

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.

“Show someone they’re loved this Christmas”: The new John Lewis ad

manMoon
The heart-warming message of the John Lewis Christmas advert

Some people may start the festive season as soon as September sets in, but many only get into the Christmas spirit once the new John Lewis ad has been released.

A week ago, the big day arrived.

The advert centres on a little girl who spots the man on the moon through her telescope. She sees that he is alone and wants to do something for him for Christmas, so she sends him a present: a telescope so that he can see earth, and most importantly the girl who has been thinking of him this whole time.

John Lewis have said that the ad aims to highlight the hardship of one million elderly people who go for more than a month without talking to a friend, relative or neighbour.

These elderly people do face extreme loneliness, and for carers the daily struggle can be even worse. Although they may communicate with the person they look after, 83% of carers say they feel isolated due to their caring role. The ad reminds people to “show someone they’re loved” at Christmas, encouraging us to remember those who won’t be surrounded by friends and family.

Though this man on the moon is not a carer, he faces incredible isolation, something the 6.5 million carers in the UK face every day. So we ask you; the next time you see the John Lewis ad, think of the carers who may feel like they are alone on the moon.