12th – 18th June is Carers’ Week - an annual campaign which raises awareness of the 6.5 million carers across the UK who look after an elderly, ill or disabled friend or relative. Local charity Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care (PTHC), which cares for patients and families who are living with a terminal illness such as cancer, supports its carers in many ways, and is keen to highlight their important role in the community.
Statistics show that three in five of us will become carers at some point in our lives, and whilst being a carer can be both satisfying and life-affirming, without the right support carers can feel overwhelmed and can struggle to cope physically, emotionally and financially. Three in four carers don’t feel that their role is understood or valued by the community, and this year Carer’s Week focuses on building communities which support carers as they look after their loved ones, whilst recognising that they are individuals with their own needs too.
“We understand the demands made on carers, and the difficulties they may face in looking after someone who has a terminal illness,” says Suzanne Emmings, Living Well Team Lead at Phyllis Tuckwell. “Every year we support around 380 carers – and not just for one week, but every single day of the year - just as carers are there for their loved ones every day.”
Phyllis Tuckwell supports the carers of its patients in many ways, including helping them to ensure that they have applied for and are receiving all of the benefits which they are entitled to, and running Wellbeing Workshops, where patients and carers can learn about managing symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue, anxiety and sleeplessness. It offers complementary therapies to both its patients and their carers, and holds Carers’ Pamper Days where hand and foot massages, make-overs, haircuts and nail painting, along with a delicious lunch, are provided free of charge. Planned respite care is available on its In-Patient Unit, where its patients can come and stay for a week, enabling their carers to have a break knowing that their loved one is safe and is being looked after. The Beacon Carer Support Group, which is held on alternate Mondays at Phyllis Tuckwell’s Beacon Centre in Guildford, offers an informal way for carers to meet others who are in a similar situation to them, and the charity also offers its carers both pre- and post-bereavement counselling.
In addition to all of this, the Hospice’s Dove Lounge hosts a carers club from 11am-3pm every Saturday, which is organised by Crossroads CareSurrey – a local charity which provides vital respite breaks to unpaid carers in Surrey. It is a low-cost way for carers to access an extended, affordable break of up to five hours, while the person they care for is welcomed in a relaxed, social environment where they can enjoy activities tailored to each individual’s needs.
If you would like to find out more about Phyllis Tuckwell, please visit www.pth.org.uk
And if you know someone who is a carer, why not offer them a bit of extra support during Carers’ Week?
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