Supporting carers in the Wakefield district
Support services for people in the Wakefield district who care for others are being highlighted during National Carers Week (10 – 16 June).
Wakefield Council and its partners recognise that caring for a family member or a friend is often very rewarding. But it can also be demanding as the role can affect the carer's health, job, finances and social life.
The Council is highlighting initiatives which aim to help carers to stay well and look after themselves.
In April 2019, Carers Wakefield & District, which is funded by Wakefield Council, launched a new hospital-based service for carers going to appointments with the person they care for or visiting them on the wards.
Carers are given information and details of services to help them to manage their own health and well-being, and will be supported to be involved in care and planning so that they are better able to manage once their loved one is discharged.
Alongside this, over the next year, Wakefield Council and The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust have plans to develop carer-friendly spaces in hospitals where carers can get information, support and meet with professionals to talk over the care and treatment of their loved ones. A carers charter is also being developed so that carers know what support they can expect to receive from hospital staff.
Another type of support is the free digital resource for carers. Developed by Carers UK, it offers valuable, up-to-date information on the internet to help and support carers, including:
- E-learning resources to support people to look after themselves and the person they care for.
- Jointly - a free care coordination app for people who are sharing caring responsibilities.
- Upfront Guide to Caring - an assessment tool to help people who are new to caring to identify what support might be helpful.
- Carers' rights guide to understand where to go for financial or practical help.
- Information on how technology can support caring, what solutions are available and how to access relevant products and services.
- Access to local services: Information about local services for carers and how to access local support to help carers in the Wakefield district.
The Carers Digital Resource can be accessed at www.carersdigital.org using the access code DGTL7298
Cllr Faith Heptinstall, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: "There are thousands of carers in the Wakefield district and it is important they get the help they need.
"Many of us now use the Internet as it's a quick and easy way to access information and help. The digital resource means that carers can find the products and services that can support them in their caring role. I'd encourage them to sign up to benefit from all the available information."
Carers can use technology such as tablets, voice controlled devices and smart phones to help them to easily connect to services and information that can help them in their caring role and maintain contact with friends and family.
Four community anchors across Wakefield are offering support to help carers develop skills to use technology. They are at St Swithen's Community Centre, St Georges Community Centre, Standbridge Lane Community Development Trust and Kinsley & Fitzwilliam Learning and Community.
For more information for carers in the Wakefield district please visit https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/health-care-and-advice/carers
Laura McNally and Samantha Barnes
Laura McNally's seven-year-old son Jacob is a kind, caring boy who also happens to be on the autistic spectrum.
For the first five years of his life his family struggled to deal with the condition, which affects his ability to communicate and, at times, his behaviour.
But the support Laura and her family have received over the last 18 months from Wakefield Carers, which is funded by Wakefield Council, has transformed their lives.
Laura said: "We were finding everything difficult as we didn't realise for a long time that our son was on the autistic spectrum. We felt very alone, dealing with the many challenges of having a child with a hidden disability.
"It became very difficult to leave the house as strangers can be very judgmental about your child and their behaviour. Our lives were almost entirely focused on the needs of my son, but this meant there was less time for our daughter and I was concerned about the effect it was having on her."
Struggling to cope, Laura reached out to Wakefield Carers which has been a lifeline, offering help, advice and a listening ear.
Laura said: "There is so much embarrassment about asking for help, but it's the best thing we ever did. My support worker is an incredible help, she comes to hospital appointments which is very helpful because when you have a lot going on it can be very hard to take in all the information.
"She really listens to me and is non-judgmental. It's led to us to take a different approach to parenting and our approach as a whole family. Our lives are much better, we're all happier and feel positive about the future."
Laura and another mum, Samantha Barnes, have set up a support group called WF9 for parents in their area with children and young adults on the autistic spectrum.
She added: "We want everyone to feel less isolated and to come together as a group to support each other."
To find out more about Wakefield Carers visit www.carerswakefield.org.uk