Ian Websdale, who’s 73 and from Bradwell, cares for his 70 year old wife, Beatrice who has advanced dementia. Beatrice was diagnosed in 2011 and is currently funded by Norfolk County Council to attend Rosewood Day Centre in Great Yarmouth for four days a week for six hours.
Ian says the care Beatrice receives is excellent but it was a fight to get the place for his wife and he’s concerned for the future with more cuts to adult social care on their way in Norfolk.
Ian is not alone. A new survey by Carers UK says many carers are worried that practical support for them might be reduced in the future amidst a backdrop of cuts to adult social care services.
According to the survey, more than 34% of carers have already reported a change in the services they or the person they care for receives, and of these, four in ten (39%) experienced a reduction in the amount of support offered by social services.
The study also found that one in four unpaid carers ‘have not had a day off’ in five years, with many reporting that money and concerns about quality of care prevent them from taking any time away from their caring responsibilities.
Ian was able to access Norfolk Carers Time For You Short Breaks service, before he received funding from Norfolk County Council. It allowed him to attend a support group for carers, which he says was really helpful:
“I got an awful lot out of going to the group and speaking to people in similar situations. It was support and back up. Some ladies who went had partners who’d passed away but they were able to share some of their experiences.”
Norfolk Carers arranged more than 500 short breaks for carers through its Time For You service last year. The service is for carers aged 16 + who don’t currently receive respite funding from the NHS or social care.
Ian says that, for him, getting a break from caring doesn’t mean going to the cinema or to the theatre – it’s a chance to do all of the other things he can’t do while he’s looking after his wife:
“Today for example I’ve been in to town to get some new clothes for my wife. Then there’s the shopping and washing. I used to enjoy the theatre but the last time I went was more than two and a half years ago. I used to play golf but I haven’t played now for more than three years. Everything stops when you get a diagnosis of dementia and often friends disappear because they don’t know what to say – the illness frightens them.”
Ian is hoping to speak to local MP Brandon Lewis who he understands has been invited to visit the support group he attends once a month at the Rosewood Day Centre in Gorleston. Ian says he’d have “a few choice questions” for the member of parliament.
To access our Time For You Short Breaks service, please call our Advice Line on 0808 808 9876 (Mon to Fri 9-5pm, Sat 10-2pm)