Helpful course for carers in Chard

CHARD: Support for carers in Chard

By Marion Draper

CHARD Carers Support Group have just finished a four week course at the Springmead Surgery  giving them a certification from St John Ambulance  in dementia, memory loss and stress management.

They had a special visit from Ross Young, chief executive officer of St John Ambulance, Somerset, who presented them with their certificates. The carers support programme periodically offers courses to the group, including first aid, as well as offering important information.

The support group run by Pat Galpin is a lifeline to carers who can often feel isolated and alone. Many think that caring is only about the elderly but 30-year-old Lisa Morfitt-Biggs who recently joined the group, cares for her 28 year old husband David who was left brain damaged three years ago after an anaphylactic shock attack.

She had been told about the group a year ago by her care support worker but had put it to the back of her mind. Now after two years in a nursing home her husband is about to come home and she thought it was the right time to get more support. She said: “For me it’s all about the confidence to know what I am doing is right for him, to know there is more help out there and be reassured that I do need to fight for it.

“David knew he had an egg allergy but we were at friends having takeaway and there must have been a tiny trace. The Epipen dose was not strong enough and he was technically dead for 40 minutes. Then he remained in a coma for ten days and has had to learn how to breathe and swallow again.

“The doctors said he wouldn’t survive, then they said he would be a vegetable but I knew he was still there as his eyes would follow my voice, even though he is now blind . I taught him how to speak and the first word I taught him was “no” so he could tell people what he wanted instead of them asking me for him.

“He used to be a computer geek; no one in the hospital had explained to him what had happened to him, it was the hardest thing I had to do -to explain that he had died and been in a coma and his limbs would not work. I said he had to rewire and re-programme his body which was something he was able to relate to and work with. He has kept his sense of humour and we are both prepared to think outside the box. He goes to Cannington College and has been doing a horticultural course, learning about herbs.

We got married after this all happened, we had been due to marry in the September when it happened in the March. We would like to have children one day but one thing at a time. I am excited to be getting him home at last, it has taken two years and a lot of fighting to get a hoist fitted but I had a lot of help from my advocate, Richard Lees, who is blind himself and was once the Mayor of Taunton.

“I was working full time as a healthcare assistant in Boots but have had to give it up now. I have my down days but I remind myself it doesn’t help anything and try to look for the positive in any situation. I know I have to keep my independence and it will be important for both of us to have a day off from each other, so I can come to the group or do other things.”

Gill Howett said : “I find it helpful to meet people who can relate to a carer’s situation and share experiences, getting help and information and enjoying social activities as a person in your own right and not as a carer. It is a very congenial group but sadly there are a lot of carers not aware of its existence.”

Colin  Welch added: “It gives me a chance to have a little ‘me’ time for a couple of hours, to meet a new group of people who are in the same position as myself, to have a chin wag and a cup of coffee, and to gather useful information which could be handy in the future. Pat is great at organising speakers to entertain or inform the group on many diverse subjects which is greatly appreciated.  In short I find it to be a pleasant morning out.”

Chard Carer’s Support Group meet at the Choughs Inn, Chard, on the second Monday of the month from 10.30am until 12 noon. For more information call Pat Galpin 01460 220026.

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