CARERS in Sunderland can take a well-earned break, thanks to a cash boost of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Government-funded grant will see £630,000 given to Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT) for help to provide short breaks for carers.
The aim is to recognise and value carers and their contributions to families and the community.
Support will be tailored to meet individual carers’ needs.
Carers centres in Sunderland, which offer advice, information, training and support to carers, have received the funding to offer breaks and support.
The cash is part of a £1.6million investment package for Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead PCTs.
Penny Davison, senior business and contract manager for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “Carers are often hidden and isolated from their communities and they often don’t see themselves as carers but simply looking after a family member or a loved one.
“But in many cases, they are providing very high levels of care on a day-to-day basis, and without their help many people would be in formal care or in hospital.”
“It is really good to be able to offer a service to carers where they choose their own time-out activities.”
Gym membership, trips to the cinema and holistic therapies will be available for carers, who can choose how they would like to take their break.
Ailsa Martin, senior manager at Sunderland Carers’ Centre said: “Whether it be a trip to the cinema or learning to drive, this initiative aims to help carers keep their independence whilst caring for a loved one.”
Anyone who is thinks they may qualify for the scheme is encouraged to contact their nearest carers’ centre.
Getting a helping hand
DAVID Harper is a full-time carer for his dad Albert, who suffered a stroke in 2008.
Albert, a former miner, was left with paralysis down the right side of his body.
He also suffers from emphysema.
Albert spent three months in rehabilitation at Monkwearmouth Hospital and learned to walk with a stick.
Despite making good progress since the stroke, he still has problems with his mobility and can be unsteady on his feet.
“When I became his full-time carer it was completely different to what I expected,” said David, 33, who lives with his dad in East Rainton.
“I thought that when he came out of hospital he was going to be able to do a lot more than he could do.”
“A typical day for me is helping dad get washed and dressed, making food for him and ensuring he has taken his medication.
“He can get himself out of bed and make himself a cup of tea.”
David has now passed his driving test after he was given money by Sunderland Carers Centre to pay for lessons.
He is able to take his dad on errands or out for the day, but now he can spend time himself away from the house.
David added: “It has been a Godsend having the car.
“We don’t have to plan as much.
“I was able to go to a concert in Sheffield recently with friends and I knew, if needs be, I could just come back at a moment’s notice.
“It has given me the peace of mind to have some independence.” Twitter: @davidallison88