Sarah Dickson is a member of the Family Support Team at Prospect Hospice. Sarah is a Social Worker, but also has a background in nursing and bereavement support.
When someone has a life-limiting illness, many aspects of their life may change – but what impact does this have on the lives of those around them? Sometimes, almost overnight, their spouse, partner, son or daughter also becomes their carer. They haven’t chosen this role, ever aspired to it, trained for it or imagined themselves doing it, but suddenly they’re thrown right into it with no direction or support.
There are lots of thoughts and feelings that go with being a carer: are they doing it right, who can they check with, why doesn’t their loved one seem to appreciate it, why are they getting cross with each other, feeling angry, anxious, tired and inadequate? How do they deal with the uncertainty of the future?
At most other times in our lives, when we start something new or go through a big change, we have peers alongside us. Whether it’s school, further education, a new job, becoming a parent or your children starting school, there’s usually someone to guide us and peers to walk beside us. There will be induction days, training sessions, mentors who provide support and review your performance, or people who are there next to you, going through the same thing.
But, who is there for the carer who suddenly finds themselves in a new role?
The Family Support Team
At Prospect Hospice, carers can find support, information and people who are sharing a similar experience, to help them to navigate this challenging new role.
We recognise that carers are facing an unfamiliar set of practical, financial and emotional difficulties – our Family Support team can help families and carers to begin to adjust to the changes they face. We also have a Welfare and Benefits Advisor, who can provide help and guidance for families who are anxious about money during this challenging time.
The Carers’ Café
Each month we host two Carers’ Cafés – one at the hospice in Wroughton and one at our outreach centre at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough.
The cafes are an opportunity for carers to enjoy a coffee and a slice of cake with our Family Support Team and to socialise with other carers. It’s a chance to recognise that you’re not alone in your caring experience. Carers often exchange stories about their experiences, discuss things that they have found helpful and share some of the feelings that they have found difficult.
The Course for Carers
Through listening carefully to carers, we have designed a course that includes practical advice and support on basic caring skills, managing medicines, welfare benefits, planning ahead, relaxation techniques and taking care of yourself.
The course also provides an invaluable opportunity to meet other carers, who know how it feels to live with the uncertainty that often comes with life as a carer.
Carers’ wellbeing days
Some much deserved ‘me time’ for carers! This is a chance to enjoy a unique pampering experience including complementary therapies, such as massage and reiki, with manicures and other treatments. This is all free of charge to enhance the carers’ wellbeing and sense of value. This is also another chance to meet with other carers and to access support and advice from the Family Support Team.
If support is required for a patient while their carer is spending time with us, we will seek to provide cover care through our Prospect@Home team where possible. Our volunteer drivers can also help if carers need transport to get to and from the events.
If you would like more information about how our Family Support Team can help you or someone you know, please get in touch by calling 01793 816135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org