Taking a Break

Posted: 31/07/2015 | Scottish War Blinded

We know from speaking to our members and their families that being a carer is a full time and very demanding job. A recent development in support available to our members and their families is financial aid to fund respite care, with support to find a placement to suit the individual member and their family. 

Respite care breaks are an opportunity for carers to spend some time looking after their own needs, secure in the knowledge that their loved one is receiving the best care. And respite care can be a valuable break for our members too - it’s an opportunity to meet new people and try out some new experiences. 

Freda Melville served in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War Two. Now in her nineties, she lives with Colin, her full time carer in Dundee. Freda came to Scottish War Blinded after losing her sight later in life.

Colin wants to tell people about the difference Freda’s membership has made to both him and his mum;

“When Carol, our outreach worker first suggested mum and I would benefit from respite care, my mum was unsure, she thought that we were trying to pack her off for good. She worried that she wouldn’t be coming out again, which we needed to reassure her wasn’t the plan. Before it was suggested by Carol, I’d not thought respite could be possible- we just needed a push to consider it. 

Carol’s knowledge of the local care homes was invaluable, as we found out that one of the homes local to us has a respite wing, exclusively for those coming for a short stay to give their carer a break. This reassured mum that she wouldn’t be the ‘new girl’ in an established group.

During the week of respite, I caught up on the jobs around the house which tend to slip. My role as mum’s carer is a 24 hour job and is very demanding. I can’t go out for long as she panics about where I’ve gone. I need to be back to get mum’s lunch for example- she could probably manage that on her own, but it’s easier to be there rather than to worry.

For me, it was a really good week off. I relaxed for once- I felt the weight on my shoulders lift, I’d been quite stressed. It was great not to have to be up early to let mum’s personal carer in. I’d say to anyone in a carer role like me to just do it- both of you will feel the benefits, perhaps I felt the benefits more than my mum, and I understand her initial worries about being packed off. 

It’s now been arranged that Scottish War Blinded will fund 4 weeks throughout the year of respite care. The financial aid is hugely important, and we’re both looking forward to the next break. Carol’s my first port of call these days, not just for anything to do my mum’s worsening sight loss. I really appreciated that she popped in to see mum during her first week of respite, even if mum was off on an outing!”

Colin is happy to talk to anyone in a similar position to himself, who cares for a relative who served in the forces and now struggles with sight loss. If you’d like to chat by phone or over email, please get in contact with Hannah on 0131 229 1456 or hannah.mitchell@scottishwarblinded.org who will pass on Colin’s details.

If you know of a family caring for a veteran with a visual impairment please do let them know that Scottish War Blinded is here to help. Call 0800 035 6409 to refer them to us or visit guidethem.org.