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Carers Support Centre was commissioned in December 2016 to run a pilot project as part of BAB’s Group Work and Peer Support. Peer support provides a safe and understanding helping hand at difficult times in people’s lives, and gives hope of a better future.
Carers Support Centre provides support, information and advice to carers of any age living in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire areas. They regularly run courses for carers on Caring with Confidence, Understanding Dementia and Caring for Those in the Later Stages of Life.
The Wellbeing Courses for Older Carers funded through this BAB project were delivered in several areas of the city and were specifically designed for carers aged 50+. These courses were aimed at bringing people in similar situations together, sharing resources and providing them with skills to increase their wellbeing and cope better within their caring roles.
We met with Pauline Edwards-Samuels, Volunteer and Training Coordinator from Carers Support Centre, and carers Pearl, Sue, and Norma, who participated in one of these sessions to talk about their experiences.
As an outcome from these courses, the carers have had the opportunity to form their own support network, meeting once a month for a catch-up over a cup of coffee. These informal meetings give these carers a chance to talk with others who have an understanding of the demands of caring. This can give much-needed emotional support. In addition, sharing information can be really helpful for carers in learning how to navigate the local health and social care system.
“It’s nice to mix with other carers and learn from other people in similar situations, it helps you put things into perspective and makes you realise that you are not alone and you can always learn from their experiences and sharing information”, shared Pearl.
These regular meetings also allow carers to reinforce and recall some of the learning from the course provided by Carers Support Centre, while maintaining social contact and building friendships with peers.
“Just being able to come together like this and just talk about things and regather information from the course has been very beneficial. It’s nice just to know that once a month you come up here and have a cup a coffee, meet up with a few people for an hour and have a natter”, added Norma.
These courses provided an opportunity for older carers to review the different areas of their life, including health, wellbeing, and finance. They also helped identify which of these areas they needed to work on and seek support for, and provided resources to help them do this.
When we met with these carers, they told us that some of the most useful information gathered from the course had to do with managing stress and financial support.
Norma told us what she valued the most about these courses: “Stress management, how to keep myself well and calm, and focused, it has helped me a lot, it really has. I’ve been doing the breathing exercises, and just taking 10 minutes a day to do that and relax.”
To which she added: “The course encouraged me to go for my Carer's Assessment through the GP Surgery and I did. It was marvellous and I have my allowance, I have more money to do some pampering and massage, which helps me managing stress and so on. It’s been lovely.”
Knowing where to go and who you can call in times of difficulty is essential for carers. Through these courses, Carers Support Centre provided these older carers with the tools and information they need to know in order to provide better care as well as to cope with the day to day ups and downs of caring.
For some, getting in touch with Carers Support Centre and learning about their services has made a great difference for them as carers. Sue found out about Carers Support Centre through a friend, before joining the course: “I didn’t even know that Carers Support Service existed. And if it wasn’t for them I don’t know what I would’ve done because I was at the end of my tether. And I didn’t know which way to go, which way to turn. Now I have people that I can talk to at the end of the phone if I have any questions.”
The course also provides resources that they can look back to even after the sessions have finished.
“I use the resources all the time, I keep them nearby, by my computer and I can refer back to that if I have any questions”, explained Sue.
A carer is someone who provides support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems. All the care they give is unpaid.
If so, you can contact Carers Support Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling CarersLine 0117 965 2200 to find out about support available to you. Visit www.carerssupportcentre.org.uk to find out more about the organisation and the work that they do.
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