Carers IW have been newly commissioned by the Isle of Wight Council, supported by the Isle of Wight CCG, as grantees for carer services offering respite opportunities to carers, as well as support and signposting. The first respite weekend was held in June 2015, with a second successful weekend taking place over 11-13th September.
Over 20 local carers, who each help look after someone who would struggle to manage without their help, attended the weekend. This weekend, carers had the chance to join in with a range of creative activities and holistic therapies, including reflexology and hand massages.
Respite weekends offer carers, both full and part-time, the opportunity to have a few days of focus upon themselves; to refresh and unwind. The events are largely organised and run by volunteers, and take place four times a year. The next Carer’s Respite Weekend is 27-29 November.
Carer, Lynne, attended the first Carer’s Respite Weekend in June. Here’s what she had to say…
“My name is Lynne and I have been caring for my Civil Partner, Sharron, on a full-time basis for almost four years now. She has Multiple Sclerosis and has been unable to walk now for almost a year. It has turned our whole world was turned completely upside-down.
“After a while, arguments began to creep in, resentment and anger towards each other, formed out of sheer frustration.
“I felt abandoned, felt I had lost who I was, who we both were! We had lost the ability to live, became wrapped up in each other’s concerns, I felt a failure as a carer. I felt I had let her down by not being able to cope. I had forgotten how to look after myself amidst all of our problems.
“We finally admitted that we both needed help, and after a long hard think we called Social Services.
“So we made the call to Social Services and a fantastic lady called Yvonne visited us to assess our needs. Almost immediately it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders; help was out there all along! We just didn’t know about it or where to begin.
“Yvonne put me in touch with Carers IW and I was visited by a lady called Soo who gave me all sorts of help and advice. She said that I needed looking after as well and to not forget that. She advised me that there was a carer’s retreat coming up and that it would be for a whole weekend. Help was organised by our social worker so that Sharron was to have a week at Leonard Cheshire Home, whilst I had my weekend away, work is still happening to try and sort out a longer term respite availability. Finally we felt we were being listened to and we were getting some much needed help!
“When I arrived at the Carers Respite Weekend I was unsure of what to expect. Would there be people judging me? Would I be frowned upon or even looked at as if I was the failure I felt? Well it couldn’t have been further from the truth!
“The weekend started at 5pm on the Friday and I was introduced to Angela and Lizzie from Carers IW; everyone was warm and friendly. I was shown to my room and allowed to settle in. Once back downstairs I was introduced to some of the other carers.
“At first I felt a little uncomfortable as I was one of the youngest there but after talking to some of them and hearing all their different stories I realised that I was not alone. It was wonderful to be part of something and felt like I belonged. There was a lovely meal, all home cooked and several glasses of wine.
“The place was decorated with an oasis theme, with beautiful candles and a water feature. After a relaxing night’s sleep we were allowed to help ourselves to tea, coffee, toast, cereals, fruit and yogurt, everything was very relaxed and friendly. We were then asked if we wanted to choose a holistic therapy to have that day, all included. I chose to have a Trager massage on my neck, head and shoulders. It was absolute bliss and I could feel myself becoming completely relaxed!
“There were other activities all through the day such as arts and crafts, creative writing, and an organised walk. Then in the evening the tables were all laid out with linen, candles, glass and flowers and everyone sat down together for a wonderful home cooked three course meal. By this point I was totally relaxed and felt like I had known the other people for ages. In the evening people sat around and chatted. If you didn’t want to discuss your situation then you didn’t have to. The conversations went on until after midnight, and another wonderful night’s sleep!
“After breakfast the next day we were invited to have some quiet meditation in the chapel, again, only if you wanted to join in. It was a lovely peaceful time and the majority of people joined in. The weekend ended with a lovely home cooked lunch before we all made our way home.
“Friends were made and I can honestly say it did me the world of good; my batteries were thoroughly recharged! I can’t thank the people at Carers IW enough. They offer help and support to so many and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their services.”
Councillor Steve Stubbings, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Community Well-being, said:
“I am delighted that the council can provide, with Carers IW, such a valuable service for a group of people who selflessly make such a vital, and often unheralded, contribution to care on the Island.”
If you are struggling and need a helping hand or a listening ear then they really can help. Sometimes we all need a bit of help and support. It is not always easy to ask for it but the benefits are priceless! Carers need care as well. Carers IW can be contacted on 533173 or www.carersiw.org.uk.
Don’t forget to follow the Island’s news as it happens…