During my many years as a GP I have been amazed at how some people dedicate their lives to caring for family members or friends. They are a silent army of people who soldier on day after day providing often 24 hour care with little or no reward except seeing their loved ones well cared for and are to be respected and praised.
What is a carer?
A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age. Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation; looking after their mother, son, or best friend and just getting on with it.
Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens and they have to get on with it; if they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for?
One of my first experiences of witnessing the unceasing dedicated work of a carer was Gwen who was caring for husband Tom. Tom had been suffering from multiple sclerosis since the age of 42yrs having worked underground as a miner since he was a young boy. He was now in his 60’s and had been bedbound for many years and was totally reliant on his wife to even change position in bed. Gwen would not even contemplate respite care for him and dutifully tended his needs every day and night. Her family were concerned for their mother’s health hence we decided to write to the MS Society asking if they could fund an adjustable bed as an aid for Gwen when lifting Tom to change him.
I recall the day vividly when I was invited along with neighbours and family to see the new bed arrive. Tom was absolutely thrilled because for the first time in many years he could be raised to a sitting position and watch the children playing in the park and to become part of the World outside again. Gwen was pleased to have the mechanical help to change his posture especially as she had been getting tired and weary but now could relax with him and view the world together. Carers requests are often so humble and unless someone makes the request on their behalf they ask for very little.
At last it is being recognised, after a year-long investigation by Carers UK the stark reality faced by those looking after loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill: loss of savings, debt and struggling to afford food and heating aswell as the physical and mental sufferings of the carer.
Read how Carers UK are helping carers and their families
This website will also provide information for you to find out about your local services.
This is a resource and support centre for all unpaid carers, of any age, in the borough. The centre is managed, in partnership with Ealing Council, by Carers Connect, a consortium led by the Ealing Centre for Independent Living and including Ealing Mencap, Dementia Concern Ealing and Crossroads Care West London.
46 South Ealing Road, Ealing. London, W5 4QA
Tel: (020) 8840 1566
Fax: (020) 8840 5688
Email Carers’ Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening hours: Mon–Fri, 9.30am–4.30pm (except bank holidays and other seasonal breaks)
The centre provides:
- advice and resource information
- holistic therapies
- free exercise classes
- an internet café
- a large meeting room
It hosts carers networking groups and works in partnership with statutory and non-statutory agencies to enhance services for carers.
A list events and activities at the centre is provided on the Ealing Carers’ Centre website.
You don’t have to be a member to use the services available at the Carers’ Centre or the Ealing Centre for Independent Living (ECIL). However, carers can join the organisation by filling in the online ECIL membership application form. Members will receive the regular ECIL mailing of social and campaigning news, as well as the Carers’ Connection newsletter.
Staff at the centre have information about a variety of different services provided by Ealing Council and local organisations. Appointments can be made at the centre for one-to-one benefits advice or for legal advice on some areas. Emotional support is also available from people who understand carers’ concerns.
The Carers’ Centre does not currently carry out carer’s assessments, which can be arranged by contacting the social services customer contact centre on (020) 8825 8000, or visiting your local social
services reception point.
Respite care for older people
Short breaks for older people are stays in a residential/nursing home to provide respite for the older person or their carer.
The short breaks service for older people provides:
- short breaks for carers of older people by offering the older person a brief period in a residential/nursing home
- short breaks for older people whose well being would be enhanced by a brief period in residential/nursing home
A short break can be considered as a stay for one or two days, but is usually offered in blocks for up to two weeks.
Under this planned short breaks service, the maximum breaks that anyone can have is a total of eight weeks over a twelve month period where there are exceptional circumstances. A total of four weeks is the usual limit.
EalingHELP – new group for parents and carers of children with disabilities in Ealing
A Facebook group has been launched for parents and carers of children with disabilities in Ealing and West London to share information and experiences. You can join at http://www.facebook.com/groups/ealinghelp
Jointly is an app that makes caring for someone a little easier, less stressful and a lot more organised by making communication and coordination between those who share the care as easy as a text message.
Click on the above text
If you or you know someone who is a young carer
YCNet, at http://www.youngcarers.net, is the only dedicated website and online support service for children and young people under the age of 18, who help to look after someone in their family with an illness, disability, drug/alcohol addiction or mental health problem.