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Carers Week 2020: Meet Jo and Chloe from our Family Support Team

Meet Jo and Chloe, who provide support to the carers and relatives of our patients

This week is Carers Week 2020.

Carers Week is a national annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

You may not be aware that Weldmar Hospicecare’s Family Support Team have social care experts who look after the carers and relatives of those people who are in our care.

Pictured above are Jo Jury, our Specialist Palliative Care Social Worker, and Chloe Lucas, Social Work Assistant Practitioner, and they will help on a wide range of aspects of a carer’s life, from practical help and support through to coping techniques and stress management.

“We offer them a ‘safe place’ to talk about their fears and worries about the future, once their loved one is no longer with them”, says Jo. “By proving a non-judgmental listening ear, it allows the carer to feel able to talk openly.  Their own fears and worries are very different from that of the patient, so it’s important they are able to express these.

“We can support them to make sure their voice is heard and that their own needs are respected too.”

As well as offering one to one care, Jo and Chloe will also arrange respite care for patients via other services so their carers can carry on with hobbies and interests – gardening, walking, dancing or singing groups, and meeting with friends – although this has been curtailed during the pandemic, when the pair will mostly offer help and support via video meetings and phone calls.

Chloe adds that carers can put themselves under a lot of pressure.  “Caring for a loved one can bring a whole host of responsibilities and worries, and carers can often find themselves feeling very isolated. Caring full time for their loved one might mean they miss out on some of life’s normalities, including social interactions with their wider family and friends and also face financial difficulties, particularly if they are unable to work.

“The guidance we provide to carers helps them reduce the worry and stress caused by some of these issues, and our main aim is to ensure carers feel supported enough to provide the best possible care for those they look after.”

Jo recalls one carer that she supported throughout the very difficult decision that they could no longer care for their loved one at home.  “This was over the course of about six months as their husband deteriorated. There was a lot of soul searching and questioning if it was the right thing to do. I took them to visit various care homes to enable them to make their own decision of where their loved one could move to. It was important they had someone to go with them, and at the same time offer impartial constructive support and advice. I also continue to support them after their loved one has moved into a care home.”

Sometimes the help needed can be more unusual.  Jo has also helped a carer who was called up for jury service, but could not drive and lived in a rural location, and also felt she was not strong enough mentally as her husband was receiving palliative care from Weldmar.  “I contacted the office to let them know the situation. I was advised what she had to do, I was able to pass this information on to the carer who was then able to take this forward. She received notice she did not have to do it, she was very relieved and thankful for the support I offered.

Chloe is often told by carers that they feel more relaxed and encouraged after talking to her. “For me, the satisfaction comes from knowing the support given has made a difference to their life in some way. It also provides me with re-assurance that as an individual they feel well supported, enabling them to continue providing such a vital role in supporting their loved one. I feel privileged to be able to help others during such a difficult time in their lives, and doing this job makes me feel valued.”

Jo says it’s an honour and a privilege to be able to work with carers at this very difficult time of their lives. “They can be so vulnerable and feel they have nowhere to turn to. Being there for them to support them through this time, offering them both emotional, psychological and practical help and support is really important.

“Bringing carers together at our information sessions that we hold throughout the year is really enjoyable, being able to offer practical support and seeing carers come together is rewarding. Due to meeting regularly throughout the events, they make friends and will meet outside of the hospice, which is very important for them and a real pleasure for us to see this happening.”

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