Updated: Oct 21, 2018
Life has a way of taking unexpected turns, and you can find yourself doing something you never planned on doing. This can be something fantastic ... or somewhat difficult.
I met with a local charity this month who are there for people who find themselves as unpaid carers for a loved one. Carers of West Lothian was set up 25 years ago by carers, for carers. “Generally, willingly taking on the role, it does mean that your own life can end up on hold, your career impacted, social life impacted, and the emotional and practical effects on you are significant” says Carolann Turner, one of the support workers at Carers of West Lothian.
A carer is a person of any age who provides unpaid care and support to a spouse, partner, relative friends or neighbour, who can’t live independently without the carer’s help. The support that a carer provides may be emotional, personal care and hygiene, cooking and shopping, acting as a representative and so on.
Besides the rewards, there can be hard times, and self-care for carers is essential. If you’re the one holding things together for someone else, you need to look after yourself, for your own sake and for the person who is relying on you. Anyone who finds themselves struggling with any aspect of their caring role can access support from Carers of West Lothian.
“Carers may well have health issues themselves, and we have various support in place for that too,” explains Carolann. “We provide one-on-one emotional support either on the phone or here at the Livingston premises; anyone who is struggling can call us or drop in, and if there is someone available to see you, they will. You can also phone for an appointment.”
Carers of West Lothian are also happy to make the first call – contacting yet another organisation can be overwhelming, so if they have a name and phone number and permission to call, they will do that.
They offer peer support through weekly coffee mornings, which are very popular; they have a counselling service, support groups, training such as stress-management, legal advice, a powers of attorney clinic, and practical help. Subject to funding, they also have access to the Creative Breaks Fund which will allow carers to apply for a short break either with the person they care for, or on their own.
The weekly carer’s coffee morning is on a Wednesday. Just drop in between 10am and 12 noon at Sycamore House (address below) for tea, coffee, cakes, chat and peer support. Either to chat about your caring role, or to switch off and relax in a supportive environment.
There are many children under the age of 18 who are caring for a parent, grandparent or sibling. They may be heavily involved in nursing care, doing household chores, or spending time sitting with them for company; they may be helping their parents look after a younger sibling because their parents have an illness or disability. Young carers may be subjected to extra stress because of the responsibility their bear, or their schooling and social life may be impacted. In whatever situation, the West Lothian Young Carer’s project can help. There are groups, outings, support in school, someone to talk to, and a range of other supports for young carers. The parent of one young carer said, “It gave my daughter something to look forward to, that was just for her. She had the most horrific year, but I can see she is getting through it and that has been with the support of the young carers staff.”
Support for people with learning and physical disabilities
Carers of West Lothian has this year been selected by West Lothian Council to provide information, advice and support for people with learning and physical disabilities living in West Lothian delivering many of the services that were previously provided by Capability Scotland in Carmondean’s Ability Centre. If you live in West Lothian and have a learning or physical disability Carers of West Lothian can support you with Benefits Advice, information on services, signposting/referrals to services, information on your rights, access to radar keys and a listening ear.
Carers of West Lothian, Sycamore House, Quarrywood Court, Livingston, EH54 6AX Tel 01506 448000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carers of West Lothian is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm.
Registered Scottish Charity No. SC019628
First published in Konect September 2018
Author: Helen-Jane Shearer