Help at hand for carers
Looking after a relative or friend can leave carers feeling isolated and exhausted.
But the kind of support that is available to them will be highlighted at an open day at Beaumond House Community Hospice on London Road, Newark, on Wednesday.
The hospice is taking part in National Carers Week for the first time.
Carers, who need not have been in contact with the hospice before, can call in from 10am-2pm to get advice from different charities and organisations.
Among those taking part are social services, Macmillan Cancer, complementary therapists, Marie Curie Cancer Care and community support groups.
National Carers Week, from Monday to a week on Sunday, is calling for better support for the country’s 6m carers.
It aims to promote best practice that can improve carers’ quality of life, help them find help and support and highlight the impact caring can have on their health and everyday lives.
Mrs Christine Smith, the executive care manager at Beaumond House, said: “Carers are vital. They are part of patient care.
“We do not just think about the patient but inform carers and involve them in decision making in every aspect.”
Mrs Smith said the hospice offered practical help to carers, including day care and respite care so they could have time off. They also offered care at home for patients.
Mrs Smith said practical support allowed carers to recharge their batteries.
“Some are on duty 24 hours a day,” she said. “They don’t sleep at night because they always have half an eye open.”
Mrs Barbara Holloway (57) of Cannon Close, Newark, was a carer for three months.
In February 1998, at the age of 53, her husband, Mr Martin Holloway, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He died in July that year.
Mrs Holloway stopped working as a cook supervisor at the Magnus School, Newark, to look after him.
“When it first happens you try to do everything yourself,” said Mrs Holloway.
“Friends are invaluable at this time just to make you go out for an hour and get away from the tasks.”
Mrs Holloway now gives advice to carers at Beaumond House.
She talks about how she felt, what she did for Mr Holloway and answers questions.
“It is good to be able to talk to someone who has been through that same experience and for them to give an idea of what may happen,” she said.
Miss Dee Nichol (43) of Holmefield, Farndon, is the full-time carer for her mother, Mrs Margaret Nichol (77) who has chronic myelogenous leukaemia.
Miss Nichol has been caring for her mother, whose condition has worsened in the last 12 months, for seven years.
“The caring is really 24 hours a day now as my mum has become more dependant on me,” said Miss Nichol.
“She’s lived with me for the last seven years because we weren’t quite sure when she was first diagnosed how quickly she would deteriorate.
“Luckily I live in a bungalow but we’ve had to adapt the bathroom and take away any steps because she can’t cope with them any more.
“She mainly needs help with things like getting dressed, using the bathroom and cooking meals and she needs someone watching her to make sure she doesn’t fall.
“She has lost most of her body strength but she’s still very independent and wants to try to walk.
“She doesn’t want to use a wheelchair because I think she knows that once she starts to use one she won’t walk again.”
Miss Nichol had a back operation in 2001. She took a break from her job as an accounts manager at a firm in London. It was at that time that her mother became ill and she began to care for her.
“I’ve been immensely moved by how some people literally have to change their lives completely to care for someone who is ill,” said Miss Nichol.
“I didn’t want my mum to go into a home and I didn’t want her to be on her own.”
Miss Nichol said Beaumond House and Macmillan Nurses offered invaluable support. “Without them we really would be stuck,” she said.
Mrs Nichol has respite care at Beaumond House one day a week. “It’s like a real pampering session for her,” said Miss Nichol.
“I get an amazing amount of support from Beaumond House because they realise how important it is for me to stay well.
“It can be quite lonely and quite isolating being a carer but at Beaumond House I can talk to other carers and we can support each other.”