This week, 7-13 June, is Carers Week 2021. Here, we share the experiences of some of the wonderful carers in our Martlets community.
Carers Week 2021 is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring. The aim is to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access support.
“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. Looking after John at the same time as getting ill myself was quite stressful. 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 (this was before the COVID pandemic). 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.
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.”
“I July 2019, I decided to retire so that my husband Paul and I could enjoy our retirement together. But it wasn’t to be. Paul was ill and I became his carer. It was quite a sudden shift, but we had a wonderfully reassuring visit from Martlets. They got to know us and let us know what we were entitled to. Two days after we got the phone call from Martlets, all the equipment we required was here. We were given a hospital bed, an electric recliner chair, a walker and a special toilet chair – everything we needed. This wasn’t just equipment, but also things like physical therapy and respite for me as a carer. I always knew they were there on the phone 24 hours a day if I needed advice or practical help.
“I was Mum’s fulltime carer for two year until she died of cancer. I don’t begrudge looking after Mum at all. I’m glad I was in a position to be able to do it. But you do lose a little bit of yourself. I definitely felt I’d given a lot over to the caring role. We don’t have any children, but having Mum living with us was a bit like having a child; Mum’s needs had to come first.
We had a visit from Kate, Martlets’ carers coordinator who’d come to do an assessment. It was nice having that face-to-face contact with Kate as I was very teary and emotional when I started as a carer. She was very reassuring, as being a carer can be a very lonely and overwhelming existence at times.
Kate went through a checklist and made sure I was claiming all the benefits I was entitled to as a carer and accessing the help I needed. She also told me about all the different services on offer from Martlets including rehab and respite care. Having a respite break with my husband was a godsend. Having a short holiday together and knowing that Mum would be properly cared for was such a relief.”
“Since my husband Ian’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s it can be quite isolating. It’s a big job being a carer 24/7, so it’s wonderful that Martlets offers services to carers as well as patients. Before the COVID pandemic, I had a massage and aromatherapy which was so relaxing. Ian and I would come along to coffee mornings at Martlets; it was such a joy to meet the lovely people and Ian loved the Hospice gardens. It’s nice to have that connection with life beyond being a carer, it’s very beneficial for me. It’s brilliant because it keeps the motivation going for me. I can take a step back from my caring role; someone else takes over for what might be quizzes, or games or whatever. During COVID, Martlets has been running virtual coffee mornings online via video calls, and other sessions online to keep us all connected.”
If you are caring for someone with a life-limiting illness who has been referred to Martlets in carers week 2021 or beyond, visit our Support for carers page for help and advice.