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→
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!→
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 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!
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.
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!!
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