... and we are celebrating!
Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign to bring caring right out into the open – recognising and celebrating the contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK.
Caring is part of being human and at the heart of family life - and that's something we are well aware of here at the hospice.
As our population ages and people live longer, often with complex health conditions, more and more of us will find ourselves caring. Yet many people don’t identify themselves as carers, they feel they are just doing what anyone else would so they don’t always know what support is available to them.
Today, we held a creativity session for carers, just one of the many things we do to help and support them as well as the people they care for.
Fliss Handsley (pictured) has been married to Mick for 28 years. Mick, 60, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2012 and uses day services at St Andrew’s. Fliss is Mick’s carer, and attends the hospice's My Time carers’ support group.
"It’s a place for helping, and is about making the most of life – we seized hold of that," said Fliss.
Mick added: “When I was diagnosed, I was asked where I want to go if it came to end-of-life care. My answer was most definitely St Andrew’s.
“St Andrew’s forms part of the whole therapy. It helps for me to be among people in similar situations and there’s the social element too. I enjoy taking part in group activities; it’s up to the individual how much or how little you get involved.
“It’s the exact opposite of what people generally might think. We don’t sit there crying into our tea - there is lots of laughter and fun."
Fliss took Mick’s diagnosis badly at first. “It hit me really hard,” she said. “Mick coped with it much better than I did. I was initially in pieces and all I could think about was what would happen if he died.
“After a hospital visit, we came home and the key got stuck in the door. I was almost crying because Mick is very handy and I just thought ‘how am I going to cope?’ Simple things triggered that anxiety.
“That’s where St Andrew’s helps. When Mick was really poorly, he could go to the hospice and be poorly. If he wanted to sleep, that’s fine. You don’t have to put a brave face on.”
Fliss attends My Time, a group for carers. She said: “I’ve been to just about every one since Mick began attending the day unit and to me, it’s a necessity because it is my time to share things. It means that when we are with family and friends, we can live and not talk about it.
“There are three things that have got us through. Our faith; we are Christians and believe in the power of prayer; our family and friends. We have a lot of support.”
The focus for Carers Week is on Building Carer Friendly Communities - places where local people and services support carers to look after their loved ones, while recognising that carers are individuals with needs of their own. All of us, wherever we live, whatever we do, have a part to play.
To find out more about Carers Week, visit www.carersweek.org