Social care is changing. According to figures from a number of research groups*, currently 30% of older people with care needs receive little or no help, while almost 40% rely on family and friends for the support they need. More carers are required and St Christopher’s are meeting the need with their Personal Care Service, paid for by the recipient.
Marjorie has been receiving care for the last two years and from Jenny for the last six months. We wanted to hear from both of them and Marjorie’s son Sean about how being part of the service makes a difference.
Sean explained, “Mum was diagnosed with myeloma, and her health deteriorated when she was having the chemotherapy, so we decided that we needed some extra help looking after her. St Christopher’s was recommended to us by the Princess Royal University Hospital in Farnborough, so we gave them a call.
Mum receives two types of care from St Christopher’s; personal care in the mornings, Wednesday to Friday, and then respite care on Thursday and Friday afternoons. My wife is Mum’s primary carer and she works on those days, so it is a huge relief to know that Mum is being looked after and has some company when we aren’t there.”
Marjorie continued, “When the carers come in the morning, they help me get up, washed, dressed and make breakfast. Then, more recently, in the afternoons either Jenny or Becky come for a few hours.
In the afternoons I enjoy having company and as it’s always the same people, I have been able to strike up such a rapport with them. I really love when Jenny comes as she’s such a lovely person; she’s funny and I feel comfortable around her. They also take me out for some exercise, and it’s nice to get out of the house regularly. The care has helped me live a normal and independent life at home.”
Sean said, “The care from St Christopher’s has made such a big change for me and my wife. The personal care has taken the strain off of us and has given us the peace of mind that Mum is being well looked after when we can’t be there.”
Jenny has been working for the Personal Care Service for five years, she says: “Through the service, I’m helping Marjorie maintain her independence, but personal care can look very different depending on the situation. Some people might need help washing and dressing, whereas others might just need a bit of companionship.
“Carers aren’t about taking away your independence; we want to support you in holding on to it.”
I see Marjorie on a Thursday and it’s like visiting a friend. She’s a dab hand at cards and we often sit down to watch old movies with a cuppa and occasionally a cream cake! Sometimes carers are limited in what they are able to do with clients, but I’m allowed to take Marjorie out and explore her old stomping ground over in Penge. She helps me navigate the streets and visit a few of her old hangouts.
Since joining the Personal Care Service I’ve had support and training to do the best job I can and I’m proud to represent St Christopher’s in the community. Marjorie and Sean were really good at recognising when they needed help, but not everyone finds it as easy. I want people to know that it’s okay to acknowledge you need help and to ask for it. Carers aren’t about taking away your independence; we want to support you in holding on to it.”