Wendy Groombridge and her sister Carol Noyce have become familiar faces at the Living Well Centre, taking part in the arts and craft sessions, usually arriving bagged down with card, paper and glitter to share.
As today Friday 30th is Carers Right Day, which includes in its key aims to raising awareness of the needs of carers, Wendy shares her experience of Rowans from perspective of a Primary Carer, talking about how Rowans have supported her and highlighting a need that resonate to all carers – time to be herself.
“When my mum passed away I became the primary carer for my dad. Before long exhaustion of being on call 24hours a day seven days week did take its toll. People did offer to help but I soon found, although people had best intentions of helping out, when you actually called upon them they would usually have other commitments in place. Obviously there were exception to this, I had a wonderful neighbour who helped out whenever she or her husband could, like when I needed to get to my own medical appointments.
However what I learnt through being a primary carer is that when people offer help, make sure they state a specific day and time, so then you know that you will have set hours which you can plan for yourself. That is what Day Care gave me, a specific day and time when I could stop worrying about Dad and just be myself.
I also knew I could leave Dad in a place where he was safe, supported and cared for. When I dropped him off at the Hospice, I didn’t have to worry about him or think I might get a phone call in a minute from the person I had dropped in to sit with him, because they can’t do this or that with him.
On these days I actually started to go to the Living Well Centres Activity room, making arts and crafts as I found this a real outlet for myself. It was and still is somewhere you can escape and totally relax; I knew I had nothing to worry about when Dad was over in Day Care. It gave me a break. Also I gained real support from the other members in the group.
I really needed the support from the group when my Dad died. He was admitted to hospital and went downhill rapidly. Seeing the decline, my family and I knew we wanted him in Rowans and thankfully when we rang on the Monday morning they had a bed available. He was lying comfortably in his bed in Rowans by late afternoon. When he died the following day he died in comfort and with dignity.
The staff continue to be so wonderful even after his death. I was really down after losing dad so quickly after mum, but with the support of Rowans Bereavement Councillors who have been on hand to support me since my dad died, I am now in a more positive place. I feel a great weight has lifted from me somewhat. I will continue to attend the arts and crafts group each Wednesday as it offers such strong support, friendship and we have a right laugh. I am also considering volunteering and running a few of the craft sessions myself.
It may sound corny but the nurses, staff and volunteers at Rowans are angels, offering consistent source of support throughout your journey, even if you are the Carer.”
Please pledge to do one thing for the Silver Jubilee Appeal and together as a community we can build hospice care fit for the future.