Nasr Emam, 71, has spent seven years as the sole carer for his wife, who has dementia. He ended a career in local government to provide that help.
Although his wife had actively contributed to her community, her illness reduced her ability to do so and seeing that happen had an impact on Mr Emam, who found himself feeling increasingly isolated, though as a former council worker he knew help was available, in his case through Carers Plus Yorkshire, which offered constructive assistance.
Mr Emam, who lives in Scarborough, said: “The mindfulness course I did with Carers Plus Yorkshire was really useful as I provide care 24/7.
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“I have developed some coping mechanisms through the years, but there are times, I must admit, that it is all a little bit much for me.
“As a carer there is no time for activities that I enjoy, even watching a football match made me feel guilty.
“The mindfulness course helped me to recognise that this was not selfishness but a form of generosity and kindness to myself, as we best care for others only when our own basic needs are met.
“Joining a carers support service is really important, and was a very positive step. I felt the local carers service understood my needs, and those of my wife.
“I feel a sense of belonging – I’d like more members of ethnic minority communities and migrants to be reached and supported in this way.
“I know families who are struggling to care for their older parents and family members, and I’d like more carers to know there’s help available for them locally,” he said.
Yvonne and John Hayes had been happily enjoying retirement at their home in Scalby with pet dog Ned.
But that changed dramatically when Yvonne, previously a keen runner with half marathons to her credit, tripped and fell downstairs.
Although she escaped without broken bones, the impact knocked her unconscious and she suffered a minor stroke, which resulted in a hospital stay before returning home.
That was in the autumn of last year and happily her health has continued to improve since then, but she has relied on John for her caring needs and, in turn, the couple have both relied on the support services available to help them cope.
Help has been on hand for administrative tasks like applying for the Blue Badge which has made getting out and about easier.
It has also helped with navigating the way through home adaptations to make it easier for Yvonne, who still relies on a stick and wheeled walker to help with mobility, to get about.
But it has also been an assistance to John, as her carer. Yvonne has joined a befriender scheme, which means John can set aside some valuable time when his focus can switch from Yvonne’s care.
In reality, that may mean something as simple as spending time in the garden. However, the value of that support rests in the fact that it helps John to continue his caring role and for the couple to continue enjoying their retirement at home.
New streamlined support services are being introduced in North Yorkshire – as the county council pays tribute to those who look after others in support of Carers Week.
Residents across all sections of society act as carers to relatives, friends and loved ones and perform an irreplaceable role, which North Yorkshire strives to support.
As part of that work, the council’s carer support service is in the process of being streamlined to provide an “all age” service, which means younger carers will no longer have to form new relationships as they progress into adulthood.
It is due to be launched on July 1 and will continue in its new form for at least three years.
The changes come as it has been estimated the county’s army of carers has been expanding at around 2,500 people a year in the last decade, now potentially totalling around 84,000, including more than 6,000 young carers, some of school age, with some spending more than 50 hours a week helping others.
New online support is also being planned for the autumn, which should make it easier for carers to access information and, if needed, access the support they need more quickly.
It is acknowledged many carers do not come forwards for help, but the objective is to make sure those who do seek assistance can do so as easily as possible.
In future, the carer support service will be run by two bodies, Carers Resource in Harrogate, Craven and Selby, with Carers Plus Yorkshire providing assistance in Scarborough, Ryedale, Hambleton and Richmondshire. They have switched to an “all age” approach, rather than providing specific services aimed at different age groups.
Elizabeth McPherson, chief executive officer of Carers Plus Yorkshire, said: “We are delighted to have secured an all-age carers contract moving forward.
“This innovative step by the county council will allow us to work confidently with unpaid family carers of any age (above eight years old), supporting them across important transitions and ensure a whole family approach.
“We look forward to promoting and delivering a service that truly reflects the needs of carers across North Yorkshire.”
Chris Whiley, chief executive officer of Carers’ Resource, said: “We are excited to be able to expand our services into the Selby district, and to extend the support we can offer to young carers across the districts. Unpaid carers can be any age, from any background, and they may have a range of different support needs. Our services offer practical and emotional help for all those who are looking after a loved one.”
Cllr Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s executive member for children’s services, said: “What we wanted to do was make the service as streamlined as possible for those who use it and having an all-age approach means younger carers will not face the prospect of moving from one service to another as they become adults.
“It will mean a seamless transition and smoother working across the board, providing an improved and more efficient service.”
Cllr Michael Harrison, executive member for health and adult services, said: “Carers are an invaluable part of society and Carers Week was established to recognise that.
“In North Yorkshire, we are delighted to support it, not only in recognition of carers in the community but also to pay tribute to the work done by all those in society who step up to help others, whether professionally or in a family or volunteer role.
“Later in the year, we hope to introduce a new online access, to make it quicker and easier for carers to find the information they may need and to make contact with us if they need more assistance.
“Many of those who provide care on a voluntary basis do so quietly and diligently without outside help. We are here to offer support to those who want or need it and will continue to do as much as possible to help carers.”
To find out what support is available in and round Scarborough contact Carers Plus Yorkshire: 96 High Street, Snainton, Scarborough, YO13 9AJ. Telephone 01723 850155