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By Haddenham Webteam - 15th August 2016 1:45pm
Hundreds of elderly carers, who devote their lives to looking after vulnerable loved ones at home, are set to be supported by a new pilot project launched by Bucks County Council.
The County Council has kicked off funding for the scheme in Aylesbury which will support 300 carers aged 75 or over. It is due to start next month.
The aim of the initiative, run by local charity Carers Bucks, is to support these people with expert guidance about financial support, friendship groups and how they and their loved ones stay well and active. They will also be supported to get further help if needed.
Brian Roberts, Chairman of the County Council's Greater Aylesbury Local Area Forum, explained: "We know there are hundreds of elderly carers in the Aylesbury area who are looking after relatives suffering from ill-health.
"Carers are the unsung heroes in our communities, toiling day to day to look after their loved ones without any consideration for their own health or wellbeing. This means they often become ill themselves or become socially isolated. We feel that some additional support could make all the difference, and that's why our Local Area Forum agreed to allocate £7,000 to this great initiative."
Almost £35,000 in total is needed to pay for this service. The Rothschild Foundation has now given £10,000 and Carers Bucks is applying to other trusts and charities for the rest of the funding.
Carers Bucks' Chief Executive Stephen Archibald said: "We are really pleased to have been awarded the funding from the Aylesbury Local Area Forum for our Caring for Older Carers project. Through this service we will now be able to provide dedicated face-to-face contact and support to carers over 75 who are caring for a loved one, and who themselves may have health problems or struggle to cope. Trained support staff will visit the carers at home and work with them and provide the help and advice necessary to enable them to continue in their caring role for as long as possible."
The Carers Bucks support staff will contact carers and arrange home visits, or offer support sessions such as telephone support, group support, email, texting and skype.
Staff are trained in motivational interviewing techniques which help carers look at their situation afresh and develop strategies to improve their wellbeing. They also promote simple mindfulness techniques to help with low-level depression and anxiety.
Martin Phillips, County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said: "It's very important that we provide this type of support. There are so many people in our community battling heroically to keep their families afloat, but the cost to their own health is often immense. It makes sense from both a caring point of view, as well as a financial one, to nip their problems in the bud wherever we can by giving them the extra help that they might never know they need but which could make all the difference.
"The Council can help through our tried and tested Prevention Matters scheme which has proven that early intervention really does work."
For more on Prevention Matters, click here
To contact Carers Bucks: Ring 0300 777 2722, or visit the website
Velda Ifill — age 76, from Aylesbury
Velda cares for her husband Christopher (aged 78) who has Alzheimer's. Velda has been caring for her husband since he was first diagnosed in 2005 and his condition has gradually become worse. He is now housebound.
Velda regularly attends Carers Bucks support group in Aylesbury, and although she is currently able to get out and about when she can, she feels that the Older Carers project is really important and will benefit those carers who are unable to get out of the house, as the service will involve face to face contact and support at home.
She said: "I think it's really important that special support for older carers living in Aylesbury will be available from Carers Bucks. There are many carers in their 80s and 90s who are caring for a loved one who have difficulty getting out and caring can get very lonely. Having someone who can visit you at home to offer help and support, or just someone to talk to will make a big difference for older carers in their caring role."