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…
(This post was written by our Marketing and Communications Officer, Emma. This is the first in a series of “Day in the Life Of” blogs so watch this space for more!!)
A normal day for me usually starts off with me answering emails! As part of my communications role I manage our general enquiries inbox which will be things like referrals from professionals, questions and requests from carers and information about local or national campaigns to do with health and social care. Once these are answered I will go onto any number of tasks I have planned for that day…
Something I do often is speaking to carers who have used our services and asking them how we’ve made a difference in their life. Telling the stories of what we do is the biggest part of my role; be it via our quarterly magazine, which I design and produce, on our social media channels or website, through local newspapers or radio stations, or putting together case studies for funders to explain how we help our community (and why we should get more funding!)
It’s also my job to make sure that families who need our support are aware of our services. I do this by producing lots of materials that explain our services – like leaflets and posters. Some of these I will design myself or I will work with an external graphic designer. Once a month I will put together an email update that goes out to our carers, along with professionals and organisations we work with.
If I have any hours left in my day I will work on developing our fundraising programmes, like coming up with ways volunteers can get involved or how we can say thank you to people who support us. This also means supporting any events that we run like craft fayres or concerts and being available to help out at these on the day.
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.
News and views from Bath North East Somerset Carers Centre