Today’s columnist, Dr Mary Wren: Carers need a little TLC too

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As I visit people in their homes in Sheffield I am amazed and humbled by the work of carers.

I see people who leave their jobs, or give up large amounts of time to care for family members. I also see neighbours and friends who pull together to enable someone to remain at home. For some people the care is 24 hours a day, seven days a week with few breaks. It is very difficult to maintain that level of support for someone long term.

One of the things I discuss with families is support for the carers. To keep caring, day in day out, the carers need to be looked after too, otherwise they can get ill themselves or burn out. Sometimes carers feel guilty at taking time for themselves or in leaving their loved one with someone different. This is understandable, but not healthy in the long term.

There is a lot of support available in Sheffield for carers so it seemed good to highlight this.

Firstly there is Carers in Sheffield. This is operated by a consortium of charities committed to supporting carers in the city. The service is for adult carers who are looking after another adult. They have a website and their phone number is 0114 272 8362.

Then there is Sheffield Young Carers which is an independent charity which has existed in Sheffield since 1997 dedicated to supporting young people who care.

The Alzheimer’s Society provide support and advice for those caring for people with dementia.

A very helpful advice website is Sheffield Help Yourself Here you can find all sorts of information about what is available in the city, including the “befriending” section - information about people who can befriend your family and give you a break.

There is also a list of organisations specific to areas of the city such as Care in Crosspool.

Sheffield City Council provides a range of services including lunch clubs, which can enable a way to remain independent, make friends and try out new activities.  They fund about 60 lunch clubs around the city catering for nearly 2,000 older people and serving around 70,000 hot meals a year.

So don’t be frightened or ashamed to ask for help.

And if you are someone interested in befriending others or supporting one of these charities, then contact them, the more we can support each other in our city as a big community, the healthier we will all be.