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Carers speak out about how Crossroads Care Havering has helped relieve burden of looking after dementia-stricken loved ones

PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:41 19 November 2013

Crossroads Care Havering has been awarded £362,542 from the Big Lottery Fund. Staff and service users celebrate the continuation of the dementia service

Crossroads Care Havering has been awarded £362,542 from the Big Lottery Fund. Staff and service users celebrate the continuation of the dementia service

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Romford-based carers' charity Crossroads Care Havering has been handed more than £360,000 of Big Lottery Fund cash to help continue its lifeline dementia service.

Sheila and David SmartSheila and David Smart

The much-needed injection will mean the Pettits Lane centre can afford to keep supporting the borough’s carers at minimal cost until August 2018.

Topped up with a Havering Council grant, it will give carers 12 hours’ respite each month for just £22.50.

If you look after a family member who can’t care for themselves, Crossroads could help relieve some of the pressure.

Call them on 01708 757 242 to find out more about how they can help, or visit http://www.crossroadscarehavering.org.uk/ for more information.

Chris CasonChris Cason

The new funding means Crossroads can afford to recruit a new care worker. It’s also hoping to find a volunteer to work in the office. If you’re interested in either of these positions, call 01708 757 242 and ask for Karen Bonnett.

In the latest of a series of interviews with Crossroads users, we found out what securing the charity’s future means to those who rely on it.

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Chris Cason, 62, is a full-time carer for her mum Irene Binstead, who suffers from severe vascular dementia. Six years ago, Chris took early retirement to look after Irene, now 90, who had a fall. Last year, Irene had a stroke and has become totally dependent on her daughter. Chris, who lives with Irene in the Lakeview caravan park, Noak Hill, was referred to Crossroads by her GP earlier this year.

Crossroads Care Havering CEO Kathy Verges said:

Crossroads Care Havering and the Carers’ Trust endeavours to support carers of people with dementia through their caring journey.

Many of these carers themselves have long-term health conditions, and taking on the role of caring for a loved-one 24 hours a day, seven days a week can be extremely exhausting and further impacting on their own health and well being.

The Lottery Fund grant will enable us to support even more carers in Havering and we are delighted to receive this invaluable funding.

“One of the hardest things is watching somebody who was normal and active deteriorating. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and for no reason at all I look at my mum and cry. I think of all the things she used to do.

“I wouldn’t be able to cope without Crossroads. The carer, Kerry, is so in tune with my mum – they have a rapport like she has with no one else.

“It means I can spend time with my daughter and with her baby, and do things I want to do.

“My mum doesn’t speak a lot, and when she does everything is ‘thingy’ or ‘wotsit’.

“It’s very much the same thing, day in, day out, and you lose a lot of your own identity. It’s quite difficult to be selfless. You don’t expect your retirement to be like this.

“When you bring up children you devote all your time to them but you know that they’re going to develop and grow – but with dementia you know it’s going to go the other way.

“Before her fall, my mum was immaculate, articulate, and she would do the crossword every day. She was always out in the garden and she used to walk everywhere – we had a job keeping up with her.

“In June last year she walked into the kitchen and said she had a ‘fuzzy head’ and she couldn’t see properly. The next day, she had lost everything. She couldn’t do a thing for herself – she couldn’t wash, cook or eat.

“It’s cruel, but sometimes you do think: ‘Not another day.’”

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David Smart, 85, cares for his wife Sheila, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. As well as daily carers he must pay for himself, David receives two hours’ respite care from Crossroads each week, as well as four hours where Sheila goes to a dementia day centre. David was one of the first carers we interviewed for our regular feature last year. We found out how being able to rely on Crossroads has helped him look after Sheila in the months since.

“It means a great deal to be able to keep her at home with me. I would never want her to go into care. It’s difficult to tell when somebody can’t speak, but she obviously still has affection and she had always had a dread of going into care.

“Looking after someone with dementia makes you get old quickly, and it makes you forgetful.

“So many times I can’t find something and I think: ‘Where has she put it?’

“Then I discover it’s me who’s put it there.

“Sheila had a fall last year and went into hospital. When she came out, they declared she couldn’t walk. We accepted she would be in bed for the rest of her life.

“But after a while the carer noticed she was moving her feet while she was being taken from bed to her wheelchair, as if she was walking.

“Today, she can walk up to a mile. It’s almost miraculous.

“I don’t feel she could have made that progress in residential care – it needed an awful lot of encouragement which I don’t think she would have got, and it needed more than just me.

“When Crossroads come in, they take her out. Sheila seems to have a determination to walk, but she needs encouragement and much more help than I can give her.

“When Sheila first came out of hospital she was bedbound and I thought: ‘I can’t go out anywhere. I can’t even do any shopping.’

Fortunately, I knew Crossroads could start things up again, and they’ve helped me through a lot.”

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