Jackie is a member of the Carers Support Dementia Team and has written a piece about what it’s like meeting new carers at our 1:1 sessions in Henfield.
Today I have set up my ‘work-camp’ at The Haven in Henfield where Carers Support West Sussex have a room for private consultations with carers to offer support and information. As I settle in I can hear the cheerful greetings as staff welcome the regulars who come to The Haven for day respite. It’s a very warm and comfortable environment and I’m always happy to come here to work.
Today I have arranged two separate appointments to offer support to women who have completely different lives. The thing they do have in common is that they both care for a family member who has been diagnosed with dementia.
My first meeting is with the wife of a man with moderate dementia. I know this carer quite well from a support group I facilitate and from dementia services. She asked if she could meet to discuss a few concerns she has. Her husband’s illness seems to have progressed and she finds talking it through with an independent, non-judgmental person really helpful. We looked at various aspects of their life together and she was able to express her worries and concerns, especially around a holiday that is coming up. As a result she said she felt better equipped to plan for the holiday, to pack and provide for unexpected problems and be prepared. We also discussed applying for the Carers Wellbeing Fund. She has two regular classes she attends that really help her have time to herself and she thought the funds might enable her to keep going to these. This carer will come to the Carers Group as usual next month as the peer support is invaluable to her. This morning’s meeting afforded her a little more time and the support was more personalised, something that isn’t necessarily the focus in a carers group.
The second person to spend time in our room was a carer who was new to me and she came with a lot of questions and concerns. She looks after her parents who live outside of West Sussex. Her primary concern is for her mum who has mild dementia. This is an added complication in a family dynamic that was already challenging. Actively listening to this woman as she expressed her worries enabled her to gain some clarity and start to prioritise what she could and couldn’t do from such a distance. I offered to find out some more information about various services on her behalf. As her work takes her abroad and she is therefore time-limited she said this would be a great help. She said how simply telling somebody else what worries her most was a relief and she felt better for having done so. I encouraged her to come along to the Carers Group we recently started in Henfield and she is keen to do that. Once she left I made notes to help me complete her registration and find out the information she is looking for.
After I packed up my laptop I took a wander through to the community café, spending time chatting to the friendly staff and the people attending day respite. They were about to start an exercise activity and I left them to it as I drove off to my next appointment.
My colleagues Matt and Tina hold similar sessions at The Haven on two Tuesdays a month. These are open to people who care for family or friends with any condition or illness. My once-a-month Wednesday session is specifically for dementia family and friend carers. We also run a monthly Carers Group at the Evangelical Free Church Hall on the first Wednesday of the month from 10.30-noon.
Our regular attendance at The Haven and the Carers Group mean we are able to forge strong links with the community and offer support to people in the community who care for their loved ones.
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