Local carers are an asset to our communities but their hard work and devotion to their loved ones is all too often overlooked. Carer’s Week 2008 was a great opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of carers, support them and give them something back. During this period there were plenty of things going on across the Trust which aimed to do just that and you can read all about them here.
Pampered to perfection
There’s no doubt that carers deserve to indulge themselves from time to time, but due to their demanding roles they very rarely get chance to. That’s why the Trust, along with mental health charity Making Space, decided to hold a carer’s pamper and well being day. The event offered them a well-earned break and was a great way to celebrate all their selfless hard work.
The event was held at Dewsbury Fire Station where unpaid carers of adults with mental health problems were offered massages, henna tattoos and manicures. They were also able to have a go at painting, floristry, tai chi and belly dancing. A local pharmacist was on hand too, giving carers free blood pressure and diabetes tests.
‘The day was a real treat’ said one carer. ‘It gave me a chance to wind down and have a go at things I wouldn’t usually have time for. Getting my nails done was definitely a highlight.’
Helen Wain, a carer’s development officer for the Trust added ‘As a carer it is easy to neglect your own physical and emotional wellbeing when you are busy caring for someone else. As such carers can suffer from their own health related illnesses, especially stress. It is important therefore to give carers the opportunity to take time out for themselves.’
Care for a treat?
Carers of people who use services at Kershaw Grange Day Service in Luddendenfoot were delighted when staff treated them to a special day full of fun and entertainment.
The purpose of the day was to support carers therapeutically in their role whilst giving them something to enjoy with their loved ones who use services at Kershaw Grange. The day kicked off with a dance and movement session facilitated by the Trust’s dance and movement therapist, Richard Coaten, which was used to help boost people’s mobility, social interaction and well-being.
A buffet lunch with tea and cake was then served and offered everyone the chance to top up their energy levels before charismatic singer Ken Romano took to the stage and led a sing-along.
Senior staff nurse John Yearsley, who helped organise the event said ‘It was a special event to salute the work and devotion of carers. It offered a time-out to receive some one-to-one support and enjoy some first rate entertainment with their loved ones.’
Carer Maureen Froggatt said ‘The carer’s day was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would definitely come again.’
A problem shared
As a way of supporting local carers, The Trust has launched an informal, drop in group for carers, families and friends of people with mental health problems. The group provides support for carers of people being treated at Fieldhead in Wakefield and the drop-in sessions, which take place twice a month, give carers and families an opportunity to share their experiences and offer advice on how to deal with the impact of having a loved one with a mental health problem.
Carers who attend these drop-in sessions are given information on various issues such as community support groups, housing, benefits, respite care and medication. Should they need more tailored advice, carers also have the opportunity to book appointments with medical teams to discuss their individual circumstances.
Staff nurse Alan Stanley who helped get the group started said, ‘Our group is to be a way of gaining and sharing information for people who have a family member or friend with a mental health problem. We aim to provide the answers to questions and put people in touch with agencies to ensure they access appropriate benefits and assessments. We also aim to recognise young carers and acknowledge their contribution in supporting their parents.’
The Trust’s chief executive Steven Michael said, ‘This new support group aims to give something back to carers. It is important for us to remember the needs of carers as well as the needs of people who use our services, and support them as best we can.’
As well as celebrating the work of carers and supporting them in their roles, the Trust also recognises the importance of giving carers a voice and listening to their needs. This is where the carer’s mental health link dialogue groups come in. There are two groups, one is based in Halifax and held at varying locations, the other at Fieldhead in Wakefield. Both are held bi-monthly and provide a forum for open dialogue between carers and people who provide services.
The Trust values the viewpoints of carers and recognises the importance of their suggestions on how we can make services better. The dialogue groups give the Trust an ideal opportunity to listen to these suggestions as well as make carers aware of any service changes that could affect the people they care for.
There was a special dialogue group in Wakefield to mark Carer’s week and everyone was treated to lunch and some live music performed by service user, Andrew Williams. The carer’s were given a carer’s information pack and offered advice on useful contacts both locally and nationally.
The dialogue groups have proved extremely popular among carers and has prompted some positive feedback. One carer said, ‘The group was very interesting, informative and made us feel like we really had something important to say.’ Another said, ‘I liked the way carer’s could question managers face to face on an equal footing. The Trust is making a real effort to talk, listen and act on what carer’s are saying.’
PALS and public involvement development worker Lynn Fowley said, ‘It is crucial that we acknowledge just how difficult carer’s roles can be. One of the carers who attended the dialogue group spoke poignantly about how caring for her son can be like listening to a baby crying, only with a baby there are things you can do to stop the crying. When her adult son is crying or hurting, she feels powerless and doesn’t know how to help him. This is a powerful example and proves why it is essential that there are accessible caring services available for carers when they need help.’
Lynn concluded, ‘The dialogue groups are developing in a very positive way for both carers and staff. Carers have a very clear idea of what the people they care for need from Trust services and open dialogue with these very important people makes sure we tailor our services to meet those needs.’
To find out more about the carer’s dialogue groups contact the Patient Advice and Liaison team on freephone 0800 5872108.
How can carers get help?
If you are a family member, friend or neighbour of someone with mental health problems who regularly provides care, and wish to find out more information about accessing carer support services, you can contact Helen Wain on 01924 326598 or our Patient Advice and Liaison service on freephone 0800 5872108.