Age Connects Torfaen has recently achieved the Carer Friendly Advanced Accreditation.

The accreditation recognises organisations like Age Connects Torfaen who are making a real difference to carers in the workplace.

Caring for a friend or relative can be hugely rewarding, but it can also be challenging. So it’s good to know what support is available for you and the person you look after.

Understanding your needs.

Age Connects Torfaen understands both the practical and emotional sides of caring. We provide information about areas such as benefits and flexible respite options, as well as how your caring role could affect your wellbeing and social life. 

Am I a carer?

The word ‘carer’ means different things to different people. That’s because many of us don’t necessarily see caring as a job – we help look after someone because we love them, and we know they need our help.

This can be a positive thing, as you’re always looking out for their best interests. But it can also mean that you feel a range of difficult emotions towards the person you’re caring for. You may feel sadness or guilt – or even anger at times – as you do the best you can to help them. 

However, you see your role, if you’re looking after a friend, relative or partner who needs support because they’re ill or disabled, then you’re a carer. It’s important to acknowledge this because it means you could get extra support, such as financial benefits or flexible working arrangements.

There are many ways you might care for someone. For instance, you may:

  • Be on hand to provide 24-hour care for your partner
  • Visit a relative who lives far away once a month to check how they’re doing
  • Arrange hospital appointments by phone for a parent
  • Drop in to see a disabled friend each day to provide a meal and some company
  • Move in with a relative to help them recuperate after a major operation

Help for carers.

As a carer, you have certain basic rights that can help make your life that bit easier.

You may be entitled to:

  • Financial support through Carer’s Allowance 
  • Help looking after yourself, including the right to request flexible working from your employer or arrange respite care to give you a break
  • Assistance from social services like practical help at home, information about support groups near you, or, following a carer’s assessment, counselling to help deal with stress.
  • You should also have your views taken into consideration by social services when they’re deciding how best to meet the needs of the person you care for.

The best place to start is with a carer’s assessment from your local council, which will evaluate what support you might need as a carer and how they can help.

Having a break from caring.

Caring can feel all-encompassing, but sometimes we need to do what’s best for ourselves. That might mean taking a break from caring every now and then. This doesn’t mean you’re letting down the person you look after. It’s a sensible and realistic thing to do, and may help you care for them better, for longer. Some time off will help you pursue your own interests, catch up with friends, run errands, or simply recharge your batteries. 

Respite Care.

If you need to take a break from caring, Age Connects Torfaen can arrange a series of flexible respite options for the person you care for. These options include:

  • Services at home – sitting and talking with the person you care for, cooking for them, or taking them on outings. 
  • Merry moments day activities – our Merry Moments programme is delivered at our Widdershins Centre.  It focuses on improving day centres offer social activities and outings for older people, and sometimes workshops and training. Most can arrange transport to and from the centre.
  • Zest for Life programme– A supportive group for younger individuals. Suitable for those living with young onset dementia or cognitive impairment. 

Caring from a distance.

If you live a long way from the person you care for, it’s not always easy to stay actively involved in their care. This can make you feel guilty, anxious and overwhelmed. All of those emotions are completely normal and understandable.

Age Connects Torfaen can offer a series of support services to help you manage your caring role whilst living away from your loved one. We offer the following services:

  • Benefits assessment
  • Help with applying for Carers Allowance
  • Accompanying your loved one to appointments 
  • Cleaning service
  • Shopping service
  • Carers forum
  • Daily Merry moments activity sessions
  • Meal Delivery
  • Weekly home visit

When caring becomes harder.

Caring for someone is often unpredictable. Over time, you may find your caring role has got to the point where you can no longer cope. This could be because you simply can’t devote the same amount of time and energy anymore. It could be because the person you’re looking after needs more support than you can give them, or more specialist support. Whatever your situation, there is no shame in asking for help. Be kind to yourself. Finding more support will help you in your caring role. You should talk to your local council or explore options through private care providers.