Caring for a family member or friend with a terminal illness can be an incredibly difficult job. People with caring responsibilities work tirelessly and selflessly, and the relentless routine can create huge physical and emotional strains.
Our Coach4Care scheme is helping support carers across the community by partnering them with ex-carers from the local area, who can provide them with valuable help and encouragement. It also means former carers can use their experience in a rewarding, positive and meaningful way.
We asked Anna, our Coach4Care Lead (pictured), how the programme works and how it helps to improve the lives of participants.
“The scheme has had a fantastic amount of interest and the feedback so far has been 100% positive, so we plan to extend Coach4Care further in the autumn. Ex-carers give the best support because they’ve been there and done it, and they know exactly what that person’s going through.”
Coach, Audrey, has been involved with the scheme from the very start. She was a carer for her husband Mike who had a rare form of cancer and eventually needed full-time support. He received physiotherapy at St Christopher’s and they both used to enjoy tea and cake at the hospice Cafe after his sessions.
“Even the time out his physiotherapy sessions gave me helped, and it’s that type of support I tell my Coachees about; carers aren’t always very good at asking for help for themselves.”
As a carer you feel you have to be superhuman… but that can easily leave you feeling run down or lonely
Even after Mike died, Audrey still came to have tea and cake at St Christopher’s, and sit in the same chairs where they sat. “It was a place of comfort for me and nice to know I could come anytime.” It was there that she saw a flyer for the Coach4Care scheme.
“I knew I wanted to do something, to fill my time and to try and give something back to St Christopher’s, and when I saw the flyer I immediately thought, ‘this is it!’”.
After completing the coaching training Audrey was partnered up with a carer in her local area.
“We were both given each other’s details and some information about our situations to make sure we were both happy with the match; from there we spoke and arranged a time to talk which worked for both of us.”
The flexibility of the scheme is something which works well for the Coach and the Coachee, as Audrey explains: “We can either meet face to face or talk on the phone, and although we have a workbook to guide us, the process depends on what the carer needs. I know from first-hand experience that as a carer you feel you have to be superhuman, do everything you can for the person you care for and put your own needs aside, but that can easily leave you feeling run down or lonely. Even talking for an hour about how you’re feeling or getting some positive encouragement about what you’re doing right can help so much.
It’s about giving yourself some ‘me time’, which can really make you feel re-energised and actually, be a better carer. Talking to someone outside of your family or friendship group, who really ‘gets it’ and has no judgement at all, can help so much. It gives me such a feel-good factor to be giving back to the community and to people who are in the same position I was and I know my husband would be really pleased. He always said I was a great talker!”
More about it here stchristophers.org.uk/coach4care or call 07718 250 363