Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face, including the families we support, and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities across the UK. We also hope us taking part in Carers Week helps more carers seek the support they need – as we see day-in and day-out how much Demelza families fight to get support and access to the services they need.
We recently caught up with Anna Sillett, Family Liaison Lead to find out more about the services we provide: “There are four main ways that we support our families – emotional, social, practical and advocacy. Our ethos is that we want to empower families to get access to the services or support they need. It isn’t always straightforward to navigate and sometimes fighting for what you need can take its toll and they just need someone like us to step in and give them a hand.
“Our Family Liaison team can provide practical support in lots of different ways from helping to fill out forms to helping with financial grants. We have helped families to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and get this expedited, which is sometimes needed as, for some of our families, things can change really quickly and doing things like these forms is another challenge to overcome during a difficult time.
“We’ve also supported families with getting mobility vehicles so that they can easily go places as a family. We also help with financial grants. This could be for a range of things like sensory equipment or things like a washing machine. That probably doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but for a family who have a child they are needing to change three or four times a day, the washing machine going wrong is a massive deal and added stress. Therefore, helping with this is a tick on the list for them and one less worry.
“Providing emotional support is also another key area for us. We provide listening sessions that are an opportunity for people to offload. During these sessions we will signpost them to other agencies or charities that can provide specialised support to meet their needs and sometimes this also leads to us advocating for our families. It could be something as small as ringing a Housing Officer and pushing for an OT (Occupational Therapist) to visit and work to start on the adaptations needed on a house. Or it could be advocating for a family to get funding for respite care they need. It is really very varied.
“Peer-to-peer support is another great thing that we facilitate through our virtual groups, including our siblings’ group and Family Friday’s. At the end of the day other families going through the same experiences know better than anyone else what it is like and to share their own experience is really powerful.
“People who have lived those experiences can give other families those really useful nuggets of information and contacts to be able to solve something they are struggling with. I have heard parents discussing meds and how they managed to get something swapped over, and who within the local CCG helped them. Things like that are gold dust to families.”
We hope that you’ve enjoyed finding out more about the support we provide, if you are a family we support we would like to remind you that our Family Support Helpline (01795 845280) is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. We can take any queries about your child’s care, any queries about the support available from Demelza, or for any emotional support.