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→
It’s one of the ironies of life that if you ask someone if they know an unpaid carer, they’ll often say no. Even when they’re sat next to the person they look after.
That’s the situation that sometimes faces Carer Hub volunteer Kevin O’Callaghan, who helps support carers at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. People rarely want to sing their own praises, he finds, or ask for help.
But life is full of surprises and when I go to visit Kevin in the hospital atrium, we are immediately met by a couple from Wiltshire. The husband is looking after his wife and his mother and, though in good humour, seems tired and in need of somewhere to turn.
Making a referral to his local carers centre is easily done, but it’s not always the case. Kevin has found that some people can be defensive, especially if they think you want money. Luckily, with his 34 years in sales and marketing at BT, Kevin is quickly able to diffuse the issue.
Young carer Becca, 10, helps to look after her mum who has Fibromyalgia. The family, via the Carers’ Centre, were approached by the Comic Relief team who wanted to make a short film to capture what life is like for young carers — and we think they did brilliantly!
We are incredibly proud of Becca and all our young carers and hope this video can shed a little bit of light on what it’s like for young carers living in Britain today.
The film highlights the difference between Becca’s day and the day of one of her friends, Izzy, who isn’t a young carer.
As a thank you Comic Relief took Becca and her family to watch Blue Peter live!
Our annual awards ceremony was held in October and once again the event was hosted by the fantastic Ali Vowles of the BBC. It was a chance to recognise our unsung heroes: carers, volunteers, and partners and to look back over what we’ve achieved this year.
The evening was made possible by the generosity of Sirona Care & Health and by our other wonderful sponsors; Bath College, Curo, Gerrard Financial Consulting, Gradwell Communications, Minuteman Press Bath and Way Ahead Care. Continue reading Celebrating Carers 2016 – the results!→
Carers are part of the backbone of our communities and the annual awards night held by the Carers’ Centre is a fabulous opportunity to applaud their selflessness, says Sirona chief executive Janet Rowse.
Sirona Care & Health, which provides specialist community health and adult social care across Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and surrounding area, is the title sponsor of the Celebrating Carers event.
Janet said: “Our staff work day in day out supporting individuals and families but they do not do it alone. They are supported by carers, volunteers and other partners and all of these people working together really makes a difference to the lives of others. Continue reading Carers: the backbone of our communities→
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…
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.
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!
Sue Judge is a parent carer who looks after her son, Tobias, who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s, along with her other two children. Sue has struggled with the idea of calling herself a ‘carer’ to her son, despite his additional needs that demand more of her than a typical parent.
‘It’s a constant stress that is always there,’ Sue says, of being a carer. ‘I can’t leave Tobias on his own in the house. Caring for someone is a day in, day out job that doesn’t go away and that can be part of why it’s so difficult.’
Through her work, Sue meets many carers and says people often feel the same way as she did.
‘I’ve found it’s an incredibly common theme for people to feel like it’s ‘just their job’ to look after someone – particularly if it’s their child,’ says Sue. ‘And I say to those people that if you don’t look after yourself you can’t give, you can’t pour from a cup which is empty. There is help and support out there.’
When Sue’s mother became ill in 2014 and also needed looking after, Sue had to stop her work as a nutritional therapist for some time.
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