Carers need someone who will care for them
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At the start of National Carers Week, PETE KELLEY looks into an issue which is affecting more and more families... and some of the help on offer
Working together – and word-of-mouth contact – are strategies being used to tackle a major question: While carers are looking after vulnerable partners and family members, who looks after the carers?
It's a big question, with thousands – often elderly themselves – struggling on virtually (and sometimes completely) alone – dealing with the frail, the disabled, and the mentally or physically ill.
Marion Road Day Centre – a Norwich specialist centre offering support to those living with dementia, run by Age UK Norwich – has long been aware of the need, and runs a regular group for the carers of those who attend. It has grown into a vital lifeline.
Day centre manager Alison Bessey said: 'When people come to visit Marion Road, we always highlight the fact that we hold a coffee morning for carers roughly every five to six weeks, and on top of that, there is a carers group which was set up several years ago. The great value of these meetings is that we have people attending now who are ex-carers. They have faced the issues, been there and got the T-shirt, so they have a wealth of understanding and experience to offer newer carers.'
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The difficult role of carers is increasingly being recognised by a range of services and charities in the region, and there is a new requirement under this year's Care Act for councils to assess the needs of carers – as well as the cared-for – if they are asked, giving them access to professional advice on the support they need.
Marion Road – which caters for people referred via social services and doctors as well as those privately referred by their families – is keen to emphasise networking on every level.
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Ms Bessey added: 'It makes sense for us to pool our resources, and learn from each other. We work with the Alzheimer's Society, for example, and I visit homes run by other organisations to look at how they work. Another of the things Age UK Norwich does, through its advice centre in London Street, is to help people learn about, and link up with, all the forms of support available, whatever the source.'
The organisation is holding an open day at Marion Road Day Centre on June 26, from 10am to 2.30pm.
As well as members of the public generally, Alison Bessey is keen to get more social workers and mental health workers along to see what the centre has to offer.
She can be contacted on 01603 667944.
For more information about Age UK Norwich, phone 01603 496333 or see www.ageuknorwich.org.uk