Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) will mark the vital role of carers with a support event at East Surrey Hospital on 15 June, part of Carers’ Week 12-18 June.
Carers may be family, friends, parents or partners caring for someone with additional needs, an illness, frailty, disability, mental health and drug or alcohol problems.
Many carers do not consider themselves to be a carer, they are simply looking after a loved one, friend or relative who could not manage without them. The role of a carer can be demanding and without support can impact on a person’s physical health and mental wellbeing.
The event on 15 June is an opportunity to find out about nearly 20 organisations that can offer support and help carers make connections in the community and get the right practical help.
Liz Darragh, Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, said: “When someone becomes ill or is diagnosed with a long term condition and needs to be looked after, the carer can feel the effects both psychologically, emotionally and practically. However, support is available, some organisations focus on emotional and psychological needs and others offer more practical support, for example someone to do your shopping or to provide respite care. Carers are the unsung heroes.”
Rebecca Drewe, 56, from Crawley, has cared for her husband Terry since he suffered a stroke aged 45 in 1995. Rebecca said: “Definitely get in touch with Carers’ Support and the Citizens Advice Bureau. A social worker is imperative because they can provide a home help.
“Don’t just sit there and think everything will be alright. I know other carers like me who have tried to manage and then had a collapse. If I get upset, Terry gets upset, so we try and shield them from the worry. So being prepared and seeking support helps all round, if you keep yourself isolated that gets you nowhere. You can’t stand on your own, however strong I thought I was there were times when I’ve not coped very well. An outside support system is absolutely essential, even if it’s just someone to say ‘I’m here’ and to hold your hand.
“When Terry was poorly again last year Carers Support West Sussex were fantastic, they talked me through so many things. The staff at East Surrey Hospital were there spotting that I was going through this tough time.”
SASH provides the main carer with a Carer’s Passport, which gives concessions including discounted meals at the Three Arches hospital restaurant and discounted car parking.
Sue Welsh, 69, from Horsham, cared for her husband Ian for many years before he needed care at a nursing home in January 2017 following over two months in hospital. Ian was diagnosed in 2003 with multiple system atrophy, a progressive neurological disease affecting balance, speech, movement and other autonomic functions such as blood pressure.
Sue said: “When things slowly get more stressful, as I realise now they had been, it creeps up on you and and coping becomes more of a struggle. Last summer Ian’s diagnosis of dementia was added to all the existing issues, and after his fall it became too much to be able to cope at home. Also, since he fell in November 2016 , he was no longer able to transfer from his wheelchair without two carers and a hoist.
“Ian has been in and out of East Surrey Hospital and the standard of care has improved so much in the last six years. Being able to visit any time of day was the biggest bonus to be introduced and the Carer’s Passport makes a big difference.
“Carers Support West Sussex is always there on the end of a phone to talk through any problems you have. They have the know-how to sort things out. The support group they put me in touch with at Lavinia House, Horsham, has been amazing. Other carers totally understand when you discuss topics, where as other friends perhaps don’t. You can say things to carers that you wouldn’t say to other people and we give each other useful suggestions. It’s so important to reach out to groups who can help. They offer counselling sessions and speakers come in to give practical advice on things like personal alarms, pill containers that open at set times and other equipment demonstrations.
“It’s such good support that even if we just have a general chat, if someone has had an awful time, we raise each other’s spirits and have a laugh.”
To understand more about what is available to carers come along to East Surrey Hospital on 15 June 2.30-5.30pm at the Atrium, Postgraduate Education Centre. There will be refreshments, a quiet space to think or chat to others in a similar situation and provide access to representatives from many support services.