Working within the care sector, we have the opportunity to meet and directly help those who need it most. This was evident when we were fortunate enough to be a part of Carers Week "Prepared to Care" event, which we held at Sainsbury's Clitheroe. We were really pleased when their Client Services Manager, Craig Lister happily gave us a prime position in his busy store and made an ordinary Wednesday in June one that will be unforgettable for many reasons.
Reason 1 - The chance to connect directly with Carers
Having the opportunity to meet so many amazing carers and the people they looked after, without hardly a thought for their own health or sanity. Many were amazed that there was actually a week dedicated to ensuring that they had access to a host of services that could make their lives easier. We gave leaflets and stickers out by the dozen!
Reason 2 The kindness of strangers
Despite the fact that we had no collection boxes and were only present to GIVE information and advice, many people walked up to us, ready to donate to a cause even before they knew what were doing. One lovely man even said "I can't pass by a collection pot" with his hand full of change! When we said we couldn't accept it, he walked away laughing as I don't think many people have refused his donations before! (We have since discussed who our nominated charity is going to be and decided on Dementia UK, to support the fantastic work the Admiral Nurses do).
Reason 3 The one that got away
One lady walked past with a full trolley of shopping and when I offered her a leaflet she didn't take it. She looked at me with tears welling up in her eyes and held my hand so tightly, as though her life depended on it. She told me in as few words she could manage, that she was going home to put her husband into care. She was totally bereft and with tears flowing down her face and welling up in my eyes, she let go of my hand. I tried to gently talk her into coming back in the store to talk to me, so I could help her in any way I could, but the emotion just got too much for her and she walked through the automatic doors. I wanted to run after her into the car park but I could see that she didn't want to speak about it. I watched her shaking her head from side to side as she put her shopping in her car and drove off. The emotional pain she was feeling was tangible, even from a distance.
I have run through my head on many occasions since, what I would have said to her had she been able to stay a while; I would have tried to give her some hope that the future for her and her husband, although nothing like the life they have had in the past, could still have moments of joy and laughter. Just like day to day life even without a care need, there will be tough times, but that she would still be able to hold his hand, hear his voice, and make him laugh. I would have told her about all the wonderful support there is out there for people going through the same thing she was; the amazing experiences of care in a care home that I witness every day but that never gets talked about on Panorama. The people who I am lucky to call friends who run care homes and love, talk and care for the residents as though they were members of their own family. I would have told her that there was hope that her days ahead would get easier.
I want to say to whoever is reading this that is struggling on their own with a loved one who they are caring for, please don't struggle on. The situation can get better, help is available and you don't have to continue on your journey alone.
National Care Homes Day
This was a different event altogether! We had reserved a table at the Thornton Hill Care Home's Annual Summer Fair. We pitched up to find a fun filled foyer, tombola, raffle, cake stall, bottle on a string game and we joined in by raffling off a huge bear called Riley, complete with Carepal T-Shirt. There was even an ice cream van that pulled up right outside to offer all the residents the chance of a traditional ice cream cornett.
It would serve the Government & the public well to be able to see how good care homes are run. How the residents and families feel and how uplifting an experience it can be when care is delivered in the right way, by the right people!