Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Saturday 30 November 2013

Don't Carry That Weight: Brighton's Carers Offer Technological Aid To City's Infirm

Charlotte Overton-Hart is one of six carer support workers employed by the council across Brighton. 

Charlotte said: "Carers do an amazing job looking after their loved ones, but they don"t always look after themselves.

"There's a lot of guilt involved. They don"t give themselves permission to take time off, and they also find it difficult to ask for help.

"It can be an incredibly demanding and intensive role and sometimes people are overwhelmed. Some of the pressure can be financial, as many carers have to give up work.

"Others find it almost impossible to get out of the house, whether it be for shopping or for leisure. This social isolation can lead to anxiety and depression.

"Some people struggle with household chores. Older men in particular – may never have had to do any cooking, laundry or cleaning before and they don"t know how to cope.

"Many carers aren't aware of the support that"s available to them in Brighton & Hove."

As standard Carelink provide you with an alarm unit which attaches to your telephone line, and an emergency pendant button which is worn on a neck cord.  

When you press your button a call is automatically made to the CareLink Plus control centre without the need to use the telephone.  

The alarm unit contains a speaker and a microphone.

Charlotte continued: "Mine is a listening role, finding out people's problems and pointing them to solutions that will help them 'carry that weight'. 

"We also offer carers assessments that can determine what benefits and other services they are entitled to. 

"Our Carelink systems have a huge part to play. Once we have explained how our alarm pendants, medication reminders, fall detectors and other products can help a massive 85% of older people want the Carelink service.

"One man I met used to have to stay in his bed every time his wife went out in case he had a fall.

"Our Carelink fall detector meant his wife could go out knowing that if he had a fall then help would be at hand within minutes. It"s made a huge difference to their lives.

"A lot of the work we do is based on referrals from NHS colleagues. Because we work so closely together we can help carers tackle health issues at the same time as offering them the wider support they need with their everyday lives." 

Carer Case Study:

Denise is a busy woman. She has four children and four grandchildren, some of whom she helps look after on a regular basis.

There's a lively dog that needs walking. 

And Denise's husband David has a degenerative condition affecting his nervous system which has left him housebound and her a full-time carer.

David's condition also means he is unable to use a phone. 

Denise was finding it difficult to get out and about – until her carer support worker suggested she try the council's Carelink Plus personal alarm systems.

David now has an alarm pendant he wears or keeps with him 24 hours a day. 

It means that if he is alone in the house and has a problem – such as a fall, for example – he can speak direct to specially trained staff at the Carelink call centre.

They can contact designated friends or family who live nearby to ask them to pop over and check he's ok, or if necessary send paramedics straight round to help.

"It's given us both peace of mind," said Denise. 

"I thought Carelink was just for older people, but it"s made such a difference for us.

"It means I can get out and about, knowing that I'm not always going to have to dash back if David has a problem.

"It really takes the stress off you."

Denise and David also benefit from respite care offered by the Martlets that was organised for them by their carer support worker.

by: Mike Cobley


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