Full-time carer David Tunstall says people should not be afraid to ask for help when looking after their friends and family.
The 59-year-old, who lives in Longton, says the support he received while caring for his elderly mother Winifred – known as Winnie – was second to none.
David, whose mum sadly passed away in April at the age of 95, is now encouraging other carers to seek support for themselves – and make sure they get the help and advice they are entitled to.
He said: “My mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in August 2015, and up until that point we had been looking after each other for about 30 years. We had looked after my dad together until his death in 1987.
“My mum was a lovely lady. She travelled a lot, and we were very close. I’d have done anything for her – and I did.
“If you’re not a carer, you don’t realise that it is literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week that you are looking after someone. I lost a lot of sleep because I had to stay alert all the time in case she needed me. I’m an only child, so I didn’t have other family I could turn to so I could get some rest.
“When mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I found out about all the help that’s available for carers. People say carers are unsung heroes, but I could say the same about those who have supported me.
“I got help with filling out forms for allowances I was entitled to, I had someone come and provide home care support for a few weeks, and I was also in discussions about getting a week of respite before my mum passed away. I managed to get equipment installed in our home as well, like grab handles. All this made a huge difference to our lives.
“A lot of people don’t even realise they are carers, or they have a false sense of pride about asking for help. But everyone needs a break, and the support available is second to none.”
On Thursday, June 15, Stoke-on-Trent City Council is hosting a Carers’ Marketplace at the King’s Hall in Stoke, which all carers are being encouraged to attend. It will be held between 10.30am and 4.30pm.
The event takes place during Carers’ Week 2017 – June 12 to 18 – and representatives from more than 70 organisations and businesses will be present, to offer advice and information.
Bridget Cameron, the city council’s assistant director – commissioning, said: “We want anyone who cares for a friend or relative to come along and see what kind of support is available to them.
“In the city there are more than 28,000 people who we know are carers, including 600 young carers. But we need to make contact with a large majority of this number as they are ‘hidden’ carers that we just don’t know about – whether that’s because they don’t class themselves as a carer, or they are reluctant to ask for help.
“Carers do such an amazing job, and Carers’ Week is about celebrating all the fantastic work they do. I’d encourage anyone who looks after a loved one to come along to our event at the King’s Hall to find out how we can support them.”
Following extensive consultation over a 15-month period, the city council – in partnership with Staffordshire County Council and the six pan-Staffordshire CCGs – commissioned an integrated Carers Hub Service. The contract was awarded following a competitive tender process and went live with effect from October 1, 2015.
The service, which is branded as The Carers Hub, is responsible for undertaking a range of functions including:
- information, advice and guidance.
- undertaking carers’ assessments.
- arranging packages of support where appropriate.
- providing a gateway to a wide range of services.
- developing and managing the local carers’ market.
The service has two office bases, one in Stoke on Trent – located at the Bridge Centre in Birches Head – and one in Stafford. For more information, call 0330 1231937 or email firstname.lastname@example.org