WEARSIDE MATTERS: New programme cares for carers

The team of Carer Locality Leads, Helen McAdam, Debbie Ainscow, Nicola Winter, Mary Kay Duffie and Andrea Lanaghan.
The team of Carer Locality Leads, Helen McAdam, Debbie Ainscow, Nicola Winter, Mary Kay Duffie and Andrea Lanaghan.
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Those who look after some of the most poorly or frail people in Sunderland are benefiting from the support of a new team offering carer support as part of an innovative city-wide programme.

All Together Better, which provides joined-up health and social care to people in Sunderland with a number of ongoing health conditions, is stepping up support for carers, with dedicated area leads, whose job it is to support those in the community who are looking after their unwell loved one.

Andrea Lanaghan, who is a Care Locality Lead in the West of Sunderland.

Andrea Lanaghan, who is a Care Locality Lead in the West of Sunderland.

The programme draws upon the expertise of Sunderland Carers’ Centre to provide assistance to carers in the city who may need advice or more hands-on support like respite.

The organisation now employs a team of Carer Locality Leads across the five areas of the city to ensure that people who look after those in most need are not forgotten.

The Carer Locality Leads play a key part in All Together Better Community Integrated Teams (CIT) – multi-disciplinary teams made up of professionals including nurses; social workers and Age UK Sunderland staff – to ensure carers do not go without the support they need to help them cope with the pressures they face day-to-day.

Graham Burt, chief executive officer at Sunderland Carers’ Centre said, “Carers play an invaluable role in supporting unwell people in the city, and take a huge burden off the NHS and social services by simply being there to support their loved ones.

“Iit is vital that we recognize that they have needs too and they’re not immune to the often crippling pressure they are under as a result of caring for someone day-in-day-out. The All Together Better programme ensures that carers are given the right support to allow them to carry on their great work.

“We know many people don’t identify themselves as carers. They see themselves as just being children, partners, friends or neighbours, just doing what needs to be done to maintain the quality of life of those they love.

“This results in many carers being unaware of the benefits that are actually available to them and the person they’re caring for, so through the Carer Locality Leads, we are able to help them assess their situation and point them in direction of services and support that may be of benefit.”

He added: “The Care Locality Leads can also help them with training and guidance to learn more about the condition of the person they look after, so they are fully aware of what to do if their condition changes unexpectedly and coping mechanisms if they find they are struggling.”

The Carer Locality Leads are based out in the community, but are part of Sunderland Carers’ Centre, which was set up specifically to help those who look after someone, and who may need a range of support services to assist them.

Kerry McQuade, head of delivery at All Together Better, said: “All Together Better was set up to support some of the frailest people in Sunderland.

“However, more often than not, there will be a carer standing behind that person, providing the day-to-day support that keeps them well enough to live independently and remain out of hospital. We must care for carers.

“The Carer Locality Leads, as part of All Together Better, offer friendly and informal support to those who are looking after an unwell loved one who is being cared for by this new joined-up team.

“It might be just a one-off talk over a coffee or something more frequent if they access the sessions on offer at the Carers’ Centre.

“The support doesn’t have to be accepted, but carers are often relieved when they do, and can be surprised at how much help and advice is available to help them.”

For more about the Care Locality Leads, or the All Together Better programme, visit www.atbsunderland.org.uk; find All Together Better on Facebook and @atbsunderland on Twitter.

CENTRE GIVES CARER A NEW LEASE OF LIFE

A pioneering service is being championed by a carer who has rebuilt his life with the help of its support.

A 42-year-old Grindon man who has spent years feeling isolated and alone while caring for his frail dad, praised a service that has helped him reclaim his social life.

Alan (not real name), whose life had slipped into a daily routine revolving around his dad, George, has been supported by, thanks to new Care Locality Leads from Sunderland Carers’ Centre.

Part of All Together Better, the Carer Locality Leads work in new Community Integrated Teams along with health and social care professionals.

Together they focus on the needs of both people who need the most direct support and, importantly those who look after them in a caring role.

Alan’s dad lives with a combination of debilitating conditions including arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease, which resulted in him needing round-the-clock support to help with basic personal care, cooking, eating and drinking, shopping and emotional support.

As one of the frailest members of the community, George’s health and social needs are met by a joined-up team of professionals, who are part of the All Together Better programme, which was set up to provide person-centred support to those who need most care..

Alan said: “I just saw it as looking after my dad, so I never thought as myself as a carer, but I did feel that my own quality of life was slipping away and the pressure was impacting on my own health.

“I didn’t really want to moan, because I know that my dad is in a far worse position and I want to help him, but the local carer locality lead made me see that I have to remember to look after my own health and wellbeing too.

“The support they have given means I am now able to think about returning to work part-time.”

Alan had given up work, as it was no longer possible to have a job during the day, which juggling care for his dad, which saw him there 24/7.

He was not accessing any of the financial benefits available to him as a carer,.

Andrea Lanaghan, who is a Care Locality Lead in the West of Sunderland, said: “I was able to talk Alan through the support available to him to take the financial strain away, to a Care Needs Assessment to look at adaptations to improve George’s home and make life easier.

“Because we have a multi-disciplinary team of people providing care for George in the community, we were able to feed into discussions by the Community Integrated Team about Alan, as his dad’s main carer, ensuring the whole team were aware of the pressure he was facing, and his plans for the future.”

She added: “By looking at George holistically, including the role that Alan plays in supporting him, we are able to deliver the right care and to recognise the vulnerabilities of carers, who – if not looked after – can see both themselves and their loved one become unwell.”

The new locality leads work as part of All Together Better, a new initiative that looks at how bringing teams of health and social care professionals together, alongside local support organisations, can deliver better care for those who need it most in Sunderland.

To find out more visit www.atbsunderland.org.uk