Eighty-nine-year-old Thomas Frew was diagnosed with alzheimerâ€™s disease in 2006, to which his wife, 87-year-old Jean Frew, became his full-time carer.
The pair, both from Hutton, carried on as normal until a charity representative informed them of the care voucher scheme; an initiative run by Lancashire County Council that provides local carers with additional support.
â€œI was completely oblivious to the care vouchers until a member of Age Concern mentioned them in passing one day and everything started from there,â€ explained Jean.
â€œInitially I exchanged the vouchers in return for two hours respite care on a Thursday morning, so I could go to the hairdressers, much like Iâ€™d always done.
â€œThis carried on for around a year, until the situation became so overwhelming that I just cracked.
â€œHaving witnessed the severe pressure I was under to care for my husband 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whose condition at this point was accelerating rapidly, my family urged me to seek additional support.â€
From Easter 2012, Jean began receiving four hours respite care on a Wednesday afternoon, provided by Preston-based home care specialist, Community Life Choices (CLC).
â€œThis additional support enabled time for myself and helped significantly improve our quality of life. Carers need to remember that theyâ€™re only human and this respite care will only improve the situation and enable you to provide better support.â€
In January 2013 Jean was admitted to hospital for a hip replacement. Rather than putting her husband in a home, she turned to Community Life Choice for help.
â€œFor the fortnight after my operation, CLCâ€™s team of skilled personal assistants cared for Thomas from 8am â€“ 6pm, which meant I got to see first-hand the superb personalised support and care that it provides.
â€œIn addition to using the voucher for respite support, the team now cares for my husband for one hour a day, six days a week. Starting at 9am each day means theyâ€™re able to help with general duties such as getting Thomas our of bed, showered and ready for the day.
â€œAs a carer you never really want to ask for help, yet there are so many initiatives out there which are specifically tailored to help and support local carers, which makes me think that more should be done to raise awareness of these.
â€œIâ€™ve been using the care vouchers for three years now and Iâ€™ve hugely benefited from the additional assistance they provide.
â€œIn the early days I could leave the house and write a note to my husband to say where I was, but as his condition got worse, Iâ€™m now unable to leave unless someone is there to care for him.
â€œHaving that break to yourself is a vital element of being a carer, which is why I would urge those in a similar situation to consider the help of Community Life Choices, as theyâ€™ve proved an irreplaceable resource over the years.â€
Community Life Choices offers advice and support to adults and children in need of personalised health and social care services. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01772 804088.
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