Wednesday 24th June 2015
Do you have a local carers centre? Paula Hall explains how her service in South Wales is meeting holistic needs Staff at the Bridgend Carers Centre support carers in a variety of ways, but at the core of our service is the provision of person-centred, one-to-one support for anyone who is looking after someone with an illness. This support can be provided either at home or in the centre.
Our premises offer a comfortable space for those who visit during our twice-weekly drop-in sessions, while a large meeting room hosts regular training sessions and events. These sessions include monthly ‘legal surgeries’ that help carers understand their rights; health and well-being events; and ‘looking after me’ sessions that help carers acknowledge ways to take care of themselves. A small, private room is available for counselling and support.
In addition we can arrange respite opportunities to give carers much-needed breaks: social events, coffee mornings, pamper days, theatre trips, walking sessions, reading groups, and tai chi and mindfulness classes, to name just a few.
We are well-connected to other services and have outreach services at the Princess of Wales and Velindre Hospitals. We work alongside all 19 GP practices in the borough to ensure they are aware of our services and able to signpost carers to us.
As a Macmillan Family Information and Support Officer, my role is to offer holistic support for people and families who are affected by cancer or other life-limiting illnesses.
Caring for somebody with cancer can have a huge impact on all the family. I can provide carers with emotional support at home, at the centre, or over the telephone, while also helping with any practical issues they are facing.
Jenny has been a member of Bridgend Carers Centre for several years, as she cares for her teenage son who has a disability. She is a single parent with two boys and had been supported by her father Jack throughout. She said her ‘world fell apart‘ when earlier last year, Jack was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer.
Jenny was distraught and wasn’t coping with the prognosis. She asked me to attend a meeting with Jack’s consultant at the hospital. I took notes, comforted Jenny and explained afterwards what had been said. Jenny said having things written down and taking the information home with her had helped immensely.
When I met Jack with Jenny, he explained that his final wish was to take all his children to Weston-super-Mare for an overnight stay and a fish and chips supper. I arranged for a Macmillan Benefits Adviser to visit Jack and apply for a Macmillan Grant that paid for the trip.
To add to her worry, Jenny had also found a small lump on her breast and was awaiting investigations at the hospital. I offered ongoing support and Jenny said that she ‘wouldn’t know how she would have coped’ without the support from myself and the centre.
I arranged for Jenny to attend a spa day at the Towers Hotel, funded through Carers Trust. Jenny was able to meet other carers and had some time for herself. Her comments after the spa day was that it was a ‘life-saver’.
Paula Hall (pictured in the Macmillan t-shirt, with two carers)
Macmillan Family Information and Support Worker
Bridgend Carers Centre