June 12, 2024

What is Carers Week?

Carers Week is a yearly campaign that aims to highlight the challenges faced by carers, and recognise the outstanding contribution that unpaid carers make to their families, friends and communities up and down the UK. This year, Carers Week is 10th – 16th June.

Every year Carers Week has a different theme. The theme for this year is ‘Putting Carers on the Map’. Here are two stories for our St Pauls Centre Community who care for their husbands who have dementia.

  • The role of a carer can be extremely varied. It is sometimes rewarding, but more often it becomes frustrating, difficult, sad…and much patience is needed. Wherever possible one tries to carry on like before, yet it’s hard not to ‘take over’ and cause the person to lose their independence. It becomes necessary to take each day, one day at a time. Life changes and it does become more restricted and insular; friends seem to ‘fade’. That is where groups and getting together with others is so important. One has to learn how to do things differently, to focus on what can be done, not what can’t. Wherever possible, try and talk about it, which isn’t easy as the person is often in denial. It is impossible to get into the mind of the person with dementia and to understand what must be going on…but one has to be tolerant and accept what is said, not correct it, even though one knows it’s wrong, because that often causes confusion. At the end of the day, it is vital to take time out for yourself, so you can continue to look after your loved one, whilst sadly you say a long goodbye.
  • I first became a carer about 7 years ago when the love of my life, Brian, had the first of two strokes. He had been a very strong independent person and found it hard to rely on me. I encouraged him to do physio and exercises, but he was not interested. It made me feel so helpless. It was soul destroying watching this once fit and strong man become weak and defeated with no interest in much at all. Then Covid came, and it was confirmed that Brian had dementia, and that’s when he seemed to give up. I could only keep in touch with people via phone due to the restrictions of Covid – I missed the family so much, but they don’t live near us so we relied on phone calls. It was so isolating – I can tell you there were lots of tears. Just over a year ago Brian was moved to a care home – I felt guilty about not being able to care for him but it was just too much for me. It didn’t stop me feeling I had let him down badly. I am pleased to say that he has settled and is loved by the staff. They care for me too and give me a lot of support. I visit every other day, and take him treats – we go out for lunch sometimes. I often sit at home and wish he was still here with me, but I know he is better off in care, and I can visit him whenever I want. Over the past two years I have had so much support from the staff and  volunteers at St Pauls Centre, as well as the new friends I have made. The people at St Pauls Centre have lifted me up during some dark days and I shall be always grateful. I feel that the situation Brian and I have now, gives us both a better quality of life and I hold on to those thoughts tightly with both hands for as long as we have each other.

Millions of people across the UK care, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health condition or addiction cannot cope without their support. It is estimated that they save the economy £162 million a year – the equivalent of a second NHS. Yet, many carers feel their role is forgotten and invisible.

We thank all carers for all they do, you are not alone, and you are not forgotten. Thank you.