Shirley is a full-time carer for her husband John. She talks about the importance of respite care, and how calls from our welfare service have helped her feel connected during the coronavirus lockdown.
I first found out about Martlets as I had two friends who volunteered there on the reception desk. I also went in to visit friends who were patients on the hospice ward. Everyone is so caring and there are lots of lovely smiles. I’m now a regular giver to Martlets as I play the Martlets lottery. It feels good to know that I can do something regularly to support the wonderful work they do.
The right care at the right time
I’m a long term carer for my husband John. However, I needed a carer myself for a while as I have been ill too. John had a bad stroke eight years ago and he also has cancer and heart problems. Looking after John at the same time as getting ill myself was quite stressful. I’m one of those people though who just gets on with it; I decided it wasn’t going to get me down. But having a carer in made a real difference.
Martlets Care sent me a lovely carer called Jo who was just superb. She said did I know I could have a respite session once a week on a Wednesday. It would be for three hours or so and would be a free service from Martlets. As John’s health issues were ongoing and I was his full-time carer, she said it was important to take some time for myself. Jo did the respite session herself which was great as John had already got to know her.
The respite session was happening every Wednesday afternoon until the lockdown started and was great for John and me. But it’s had to stop because of coronavirus.
Support during lockdown
During the lockdown though I’ve had a reassuring letter from Martlets and phone calls from Rene in the welfare team. She explained that the welfare centre was set up so they could support carers and patients during the lockdown. In case we needed help with getting food or medicines, or some emotional support. Rene phoned regularly to check that I was ok and to see if I needed help with shopping or anything. It was just nice to have a friendly chat. She was wonderful, a lovely person.
It’s up to me to phone the team now at Martlets if I need anything else, as I’m ok now. One of my neighbours is getting my shopping in. His partner also ordered me a new printer for my computer and set it up, making sure he was socially distanced. The coronavirus pandemic has really made me realise how important community is.
I don’t need Jo as my carer now as I’m feeling better than I did, but we stay in touch. She always went the extra mile and was so thoughtful. It’s people taking the time to really care like that that makes such a difference.
Martlets’ welfare centre was set up to support our patients, carers and families during the coronavirus lockdown. We are launching a new community-led project to offer support, Compassionate Neighbours. It aims to tackle loneliness and isolation for people affected by terminal illness in Brighton, Hove and the Havens.
Compassionate Neighbours is a national social movement that has been successful in other parts of the UK. The award-winning project was originally started by St Joseph’s Hospice in London. Martlets is now introducing this locally. A group of specially trained neighbours will offer their time and companionship to local people in need of support.