The Carers’ Group at Lewis-Manning Hospice has been celebrating National Carers Week, which aims to recognise and highlight the contribution of all of the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers.
The charity, which offers free palliative care to local people with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses, has provided carers’ support for a long time at the hospice and when the new building was opened in 2012, Dr Simon Pennell, the hospice GP and Terry Purnell, who has worked with carers for over ten years, worked out a new plan and set-up a new group which now meets weekly.
The idea for the group was in response to research that showed carers needed more than was being provided by Social Services, NHS, and local authorities, so the plan was for the new group to provide an opportunity to find out information by informal meetings with professionals, friendly discussion groups and a social get together with other carers who understood the caring situation.
Maggie Randall, a Social Worker who works with the Lewis-Manning Carers’ Group, explains, “Carers describe themselves as ‘curious and apprehensive’ when they come for the first time but they relax when they know their loved one is cared for. They tell us that they enjoy meeting new people, sharing information and tips and making new friends.”
“There is certainly lots of laughter coming from them every week!”, adds co-founder Terry Purnell. “They have guest speakers who join in the fun too, such as our physiotherapist helping with manual handling techniques and a funeral director who talked about making early and individual decisions about funeral wishes.”For the future the group wants to encourage more carers to attend but they recognise that this might not be easy for carers who are also working. Terry explains, “For those carers who are also working, we hope to duplicate our programme, holding late in the day or evening meetings and in addition we will develop one to one carer’s surgeries to provide help on specific matters.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Carers’ Group should contact Lewis-Manning on 01202 708470.