It is a weekend away from home that offers a break from the responsibilities as a carer for her husband. A weekend that has proven to be a lifeline for Marlene Mitchell, who cares full-time for husband Ken who is living with early onset dementia.
A video of Marlene and Ken Mitchell can be found here:
Over the course of the weekend the couple both enjoyed a weekend break at Roffey Park as part of the Short Break Services for Family and Friend Carers. The newly funded services offers respite services for a number of different carers, giving them the chance to recharge their batteries and to enjoy a break on their own or with the person they care for.d
Earlier this year the county council took the decision to award contracts to a number of service providers for a further three years, demonstrating its commitment to supporting carers to receive the support they need. Carers Support West Sussex carried out an extensive survey of carers about their own respite experiences to inform the process.
Marlene and Ken Mitchell have previously taken part in a short break at Roffey Park, and both enjoyed their return visit this weekend, with Ken describing the weekend as putting a power pack on his back so he and Marlene can face the challenges together.
Marlene said: “At first I thought, ‘oh yes it’s a little break for me by myself’ but then I realised it was for Ken as well. We both came and I did feel as though it was a marvelous break for me because I didn’t have to worry about Ken. There was someone here all the time looking after him, knowing exactly where he was, and he was doing things that he wanted to.
“I was free just to wander and do what I wanted to – relaxation, massage, everything that I think ‘oh yes, that would be nice to try’ and I was able to because it was really a weekend for me as well.
“The main thing was I didn’t have to worry about Ken, because there was someone here for him. I felt as though I had had my time to myself.”
Lisa French, Operations Manager at Crossroads Care South Central who deliver the weekend break, said: “Carers have come away and said it is so nice to have someone else cook for them because their time is taken up looking after the person with dementia. They can go for a swim and do those things they used to do before becoming a carer.”
Paul McKay, West Sussex County Council’s Director of Adults’ Services, said: “This service really does provide a lifeline for those who need it most. We really cannot underestimate the contribution the many family and friend carers we have here in West Sussex make to their communities, and to the quality of life for the people they care for.
“I hope that all those who attended the short break had a lovely time, and returned home feeling refreshed and revitalised.”
More information about respite care for family and friend carers can be found here: https://www.carerssupport.org.uk/our-services/relaxation-and-respite/ or by calling 0300 028 8888