Jun 142013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Social care charity VSA’s Carers Service kick-started Carers’ Week 2013 (10 – 16 June) by launching a £50,000 Carers’ Crisis Fund, available to unpaid carers aged over 18 throughout Aberdeen city and shire thanks to a generous legacy.

At a lunch on Tuesday hosted in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, speakers  honoured local carers and, coinciding with the Carers’ Week 2013 theme ‘Prepared to Care,’ asked whether local carers really are emotionally and practically prepared to care, particularly in a crisis situation.

Lucy Whiteman, development manager at VSA’s Aberdeenshire Carers Support, said:-

“Three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives.  There are a lot of services to support the people being cared for.  But what about supporting the carer when they need it most?

“VSA is absolutely delighted to receive this fund.  It’s open to any carer in the north-east facing difficulty.  We want to reach new carers and help those we’re already working with.  It could be a broken down washing machine and a carer who needs funding for a replacement.  It could fund a laundry service for an unpaid carer who’s too overworked to do it themselves. 

“A family may need help covering the cost of a call support system for the house.  Or it could be transport to hospital visits.  Funds are obviously limited and we’ll support those in greatest need.  But each case will be different but our independent panel will be open to ideas.”

Dorothy McBrearty cares for her father who has Alzheimer’s, Prostate cancer and COPD and her mother who suffers from two types of dementia:-

“This new fund would have been really beneficial for me.  As their only carer, it’s difficult when suffering my own health problems too. When I had to go to the doctor, it could clash with their appointments.  Having emergency help to transport them would have been brilliant.”

“Carers in the north-east must take advantage of this.  Being a carer can make you tired and stressed.  You don’t want any added strain on yourself or the person you’re caring for.  Knowing you can call for help in a crisis would be an amazing comfort.”

Lucy continued:-

“This legacy is going to be a huge help in a time of increased crisis and panic.  Carers are faced with more tough decisions that further impact on their busy and often extremely stressful lives.   But having an opportunity to access a Carers’ Crisis Fund would be a massive relief during a desperate time.

“Caring for someone else can seriously impact your health, relationships, finances and career.  It has a real knock-on effect.  It’s not something you want to handle alone.  The right support and advice is essential.  By getting involved in Carers Week 2013, we can highlight and improve conditions for the 25,000 unpaid carers in Aberdeen city and shire.” 

Tuesday’s event will include a speech from Len Ironside, convenor of Aberdeen City Council’s Social Care and Wellbeing Committee and a personal perspective on preparing to care from local carer Vic Baxter.  There will also be information stalls with specialist staff on hand for advice, open between 11am and 3pm.

VSA’s Carers’ Service is hosting further local events to raise awareness of the support available:

  • VSA’s Forest Grove, a community-based facility for adults aged over 50 who are cared for at home, will host ‘Fun at Forest Grove,’ with drop-in sessions Monday to Friday between 10am and 12 noon for carers and those they care for, complete with social activities, Reiki sessions, stalls and raffles.
  • Fun with Aberdeenshire Carers Support on Thursday 13 June at the Hopeville Social Club, 34 Harlaw Road, Inverurie between 11am and 3pm.  Expecting to attract 100 carers and includes care campaigner Tommy Whitelaw as keynote speaker, refreshments, massage, cookery, floristry, reiki and more.
  • Staffed information display at Bon Accord Shopping Centre, Monday to Friday during Carers Week, between 10am and 4pm.
  • Information display at AsdaAberdeenBeach and Sainsbury’s Berryden throughout Carers Week.

The funding is the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire share of a legacy from the late Mrs Nadia Moulton-Barrett, left to The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland (part of Carers Trust).  The VSA Moulton-Barrett Legacy Fund, known as VSA’s Carers’ Crisis Fund, will be a responsive grant programme to fund items or services for carers facing challenges.

For more information about VSA’s Carers Services, visit its headquarters at 38 Castle Street, call 01224 212021 or visit our website at www.vsa.org.uk.   For more information about Carers’ Week events visit www.carersweek.org

Apr 052013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

A Deeside-based service that supports unpaid carers who look after a family member, friend or neighbour who is ill, frail or disabled has re-launched with two new carer support workers who will pioneer new activities to benefit Deeside’s hardworking unpaid carers and help to distribute new funding for much-needed short breaks and respite.

Tracey Bell, carer support and development worker, said:-

“Three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives.  There are a lot of services to support the people being cared for.  But the carer’s own wellbeing is of paramount importance too.”

“Respite is essential.  We recently got access to the Creative Breaks Fund through the Scottish Government and the Change Fund.  It can be used flexibly to help carers have a short holiday, pay for leisure or gardening equipment or enjoy a bit of pampering.  It can be a chance to have a break from their caring role or spend quality time with the person they care for.  It means they can rest and recharge their batteries as well as trying a new skill or picking up an old hobby.  I’d urge any local carers to get in touch as soon as possible to get support in applying for this funding.”

“For short-term respite we’re working in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland to offer relaxation sessions for carers at Victory Hall in Aboyne.”

The Aboyne-based centre’s staff are able to advise on care-related issues, such as respite, housing, holidays, benefits, training and support groups.  For those who can’t make it to the centre, home visits are available.

“It’s a part of life but the personal costs of caring for someone with a long-term condition, disability, addiction, physical or mental health problem can be high.  For some, it’s a 24/7, 52-week commitment.  Many suffer due to a lack of understanding about what they do.  Some don’t even recognise themselves as carers.  Others struggle with health and career problems as they try to look after sick or disabled relatives without help. We want to make life easier for these hard workers and those they look after.”

According to Carers UK, there are nearly 6 million carers in the country.  The Scottish Household Survey, conducted by The Scottish Government in 2010 reported 657,300 carers north of the border.

VSA’s Carers’ Services in Deeside is located at Unit 9, Aboyne Business Centre.  For more information call Tracey Bell or Kirsteen Heneghan on 01339 887291 or e-mail tracey.bell@vsa.org.uk or kirsteen.heneghan@vsa.org.uk  The office is open between 9am and 3pm Monday to Wednesday and between 9am and 5pm on a Thursday and Friday.

The relaxation sessions will be held at Victory Hall in Aboyne between 2pm and 3pm on 12 and 26 April and 10 and 24 May.  Each will be followed by a drop-in information session until 4pm.