Hospices have also been reaching out to carers in their local area who may not have been in contact with the hospice before.
At the start of the week, St Peter & St James Hospice was on BBC Radio Sussex, talking about what the word ‘carer’ means and how the hospice can support them.
And today St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice is hosting a ‘caring for carers’ event which is open to all carers, whether they are caring for a hospice patient or not. The event offers carers the opportunity to take some time for themselves and indulge in hand massage, make-overs and t’ai chi. It will also offer practical advice and support with workshops held on relaxation, improving sleep and healthy lifestyles.
Ruth O’Melia from St Barnabas explained: “We are really looking forward to welcoming carers from across the county to join us at this special event. The health and wellbeing of carers is just as important to us as the health and wellbeing of our patients.”
In a blog post this week, Sandy Lawless, part of the family support team at Saint Francis Hospice in Romford, highlighted the importance of listening to carers: “We are very aware that caring is a journey, and like any journey you need breaks and support to reach the end.
“We are also aware that the person on the journey is the expert; they know where it hurts and the specific stress points that they experience. So we always strive to be led by them, so that we can provide the right support for every individual we meet.”
Speaking for Carers Week, Sally Paton recalls the first time she attended the carers group at Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole, which was set up in 2012 in response to research that showed carers needed more than was being provided by social services, NHS, and local authorities.
“After being offered a cup of tea and biscuit by the two amazing ladies and one gentleman there, the warmth and understanding gave me such a feeling of support and gratitude at not being alone anymore that I walked out of the building on happy feet,” said Sally.
She continued: “We exchange tips, ideas, can speak of our days and night difficulties with people who understand without explanation. It’s such a relief at times. They arrange little helpful talks too – nutrition, fire safety in the home, wills, how to turn someone in bed etc. Kindness and keen observation of both carers and cared for is amazing from everyone there. And we laugh – the best medicine.”
Linda Smith, who attends a carers group at St Clare Hospice in Hastingwood, added: “Everyone in the group is facing a similar situation and dealing with similar symptoms, and there is a great feeling of support. What I’ve found particularly useful is people have different strategies to cope, and it’s been good to share those experiences and learn from what has been helpful to others.
“It’s given me the confidence that, whatever happens, we can face it.”
A ringing endorsement of the vital support hospices give to the thousands of carers across the UK who care for loved ones living with a life-limiting or terminal condition.