Members of the Carers Group at Lewis-Manning Hospice have been celebrating National Carers Week, which aims to recognise and highlight the contribution of all of the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers. As part of the celebrations there will be a patient and carer tea party on Friday (12 June) which coincides with the birthday of founder Marjorie Lewis-Manning who died in 1987.
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.
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.”
Sally Paton, a carer whose husband is a patient at the hospice, recalls attending the first session, “I was the first person to go along, not knowing what to expect, and slightly apprehensive, as my knowledge of “caring” for a “cared for” was so little. However, after being offered a cup of tea and biscuit by the two amazing ladies and one gentleman there, the warmth and understanding gave me such a feeling of support and gratitude at not being alone anymore that I walked out of the building on happy feet. There is a sense of tranquillity and inspirational, cheerful warmth at Lewis-Manning that is so uplifting – to mind and spirit.”
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.
Sally continues, “As more people came to the carers meetings, we formed trust and humour and friendship between us. We exchange tips, ideas, can speak of our days and night difficulties with people who understand without explanation. It’s such a relief at times. They arrange little helpful “talks” too – nutrition, fire safety in the home, wills, how to turn someone in bed etc. Kindness and keen observation of both carers and cared for is amazing from everyone there- everyone. And we laugh – the best medicine.”
Sally adds, “We are so lucky to have Lewis-Manning to tap into. It changes many lives for the better.”