A local charity is urging unpaid carers to get in touch for advice and support during the coronavirus crisis.
Carers’ Resource, which covers the Bradford, Harrogate and Skipton districts, has staff working from home giving carers information, advice and a listening ear. An unpaid carer is anyone who provides help and support to a friend, neighbour or relative who could not otherwise manage because of frailty, illness or disability.
The charity’s chief executive Chris Whiley said: “Our offices are closed to the public, staff are working from home to deal with phone calls and electronic queries, and we are linked in with the official district coronavirus response led by the council.
“We aim to continue providing a service no matter what the situation. We offer support with form filling, we give a listening ear to carers even if it’s just to let off steam, and we have a useful form that can help unpaid carers to plan for the possibility of someone in the household contracting the virus.
“We have advice for working carers, and we’re signposting people to where they can get help with shopping and other normal practical things that are now proving to be more difficult.
“Carers registered with us are able to ask for a letter to show they are a carer when wanting to access shopping times for vulnerable people or if challenged for whatever reason. Carers who are not already known to us can call their nearest office or self-refer using the form on our website.
“Any messages left will be responded to as soon as possible, and we want people to contact us no matter how many hours they care or whether the person they care for lives with them or not. We are very mindful of the fact some carers have loved ones in care homes or isolated in their own homes, and that is a real worry for them.”
Some of the charity’s staff will still be able to visit people in their own homes but this will be in exceptional circumstances and at the householders’ request.
Ms Whiley added: “As this crisis continues so will the pressure on carers and families and we want to urge unpaid carers to contact us for information, advice or general support at any time.“
The charity also supports young carers, who are under the age of 18 and look after a parent or sibling who has a physical or mental illness, misuses drugs or alcohol, or has a disability.
Ms Whiley added: “Young carers can have lots of different responsibilities such as chores, looking after younger siblings, providing personal care and giving emotional support. The support for these young people has moved to online and telephone.
“We are calling all the families of young carers who we usually see one-to-one and those who come to our youth clubs. We are using Facebook and our website to make sure carers have links, especially to mental health support.”
The charity is also suggesting fun activities and challenges for young carers such as decorating an egg or potato and sending in the photo as a competition. Other plans include a virtual fancy dress contest and a photo montage of young carers with “thank you” signs for NHS and other key workers.
Carers’ Resource also has a not-for-profit paid-for regulated care service Care@ Carers’ Resource, which supports people in their own homes with personal care, shopping and medication.
Head of care Sam Dawson said: “It has been and continues to be a challenge, and we have all hands to the deck. We have all been out supporting clients and giving them reassurance while following Government and NHS guidance.
“We have continued to deliver all critical calls, personal care, medication, and hygiene cleans and have delivered shopping for our self-isolating customers and carers. We are also giving telephone support calls to talk through tasks with customers who are a little more independent but need that support. For example, I did a WhatsApp video call to help someone cook last week.
“We are taking extra precautions and urge families to follow the guidance and not visit where possible. We recognise how tough this is, so we video call families while our staff are there so they can not only talk to loved ones but also see them.
“Where we have a customer with additional needs who lives in supported living, we are offering to take them out for a walk from their home in their local area to get them out in the fresh air, and hopefully reduce triggers to challenging behaviour from being cooped up. Staff are understandably anxious but we are trying to keep the team morale up.”
Unpaid carers can contact Carers’ Resource at www.carersresource.org/contact/ or call 01274 449660, 01423 500555, or 01756 700888.
The charity also has Facebook and Twitter social media accounts, and a dedicated website for young carers at https://youngcarersresource.org/