Giving peace of mind to carers

(l-r): County Councillor Geoff Driver, Dorothy Livesey, president of Leyland and Cuerden Lions, and Elizabeth Majhi.
(l-r): County Councillor Geoff Driver, Dorothy Livesey, president of Leyland and Cuerden Lions, and Elizabeth Majhi.

LANCASHIRE County Council has joined forces with local Lions Clubs to help take the worry out of caring for a loved one. The new partnership brings together the county council’s Peace of Mind for Carers service and the Lions Clubs’ ‘Message in a Bottle’ project.

It was launched at a recent carers’ conference in Preston where Geoff Driver, leader of the county council, met carers, staff from the county council’s carers’ team and representatives from the Lions Clubs.

County Coun Driver said: “Carers of all ages provide a vital service, not only to their loved ones but to the wider community.

“Caring for someone can be a real worry and I heartily welcome anything that will help to put ca! rers’ minds at rest.”

The Peace of Mind for Carers scheme has been running since June 2009. It ensures someone is ready to step in to help 24 hours a day, 365 days per year if a carer is caught up in an unforeseen situation like a traffic jam, sudden illness or emergency admission to hospital.

Carers are given an identification card and key fob with an emergency number on them. The number can be called at any time of the day or night, either by carers themselves or by the emergency services.

The call sets in motion a plan agreed by the carer and the person being cared for, together with someone from their local carers’ centre. This may be to contact friends or relatives who are willing to help or to arrange for free care to be provided for up to 72 hours by a homecare agency.

The emergency plan now includes the ‘Message in the Bottle’ scheme, organised by the Lions Clubs. It aims to get people to put potentially life-saving information on a standard form, pop it in the special container and leave it s omewhere easy to find – their fridge.

This can save the emergency services valuable time in identifying people who are unable to communicate, as well as providing details of close relatives and other emergency contacts.

The emergency services can also tell immediately what medication people are taking and whether they have any allergies.

Elizabeth Majhi has been a carer for her daughter for the past 14 years. Elizabeth said: “I completed my plan in July 2009 and hoped like every other carer I would never have to use it.

“Although I have heard of other carers having to activate their plan, fortunately I have been lucky in not having to use mine. However, this does not lessen the huge sense of relief from being a part of such a reassuring service.

“Taking the time to complete a plan helps focus the mind to ensure that you have considered all possible scenarios.

“Peace of Mind for Car! ers is exactly that – a support service that provides peace of mind for carers.”

More than 3,000 carers in Lancashire now have an emergency plan as part of the Peace of Mind service.