In focus: Wellbeing Groups
Wellbeing Groups Care for the Carers
Wellbeing groups are regular, informal drop-in groups for all carers, with input at some groups from Carer Support Workers.
We spoke to four volunteers about how Wellbeing Groups can support carers and what it is like to host a group.
Volunteers Christine, Derek and Heather came together to host Peacehaven’s first Wellbeing Group – a peer-led group aimed at people who have been caring for a while – in January 2016.
With the support of Care for the Carers, the volunteers have created a supportive, safe space for people to share their experiences with other carers.
Heather said: “Often, it can be difficult for carers to talk about their experiences with others because friends don’t understand or don’t want to talk about these things. However, this is a space where people can talk freely about caring.It’s a friendly group where everyone joins in and helps. We’ve not only formed support in the group but we’ve also formed a wider support network in the community.”
In Hailsham, Ruth, who has cared for her husband for 38 years, is also running a successful Wellbeing Group. Ruth told CareLine that she always makes a point of welcoming people, especially those new to the group.
“We all have name badges so everyone knows who everyone is. People tell me that having a badge makes them feel part of the group. I also greet people with tea, coffee and biscuits as if they were coming to my home,” she said.
The meetings are also an excellent place for carers to share information, and the volunteers organise a rolling programme of guest speakers.
Ruth also organises for speakers from different charities and services to talk to her group about issues such as benefits, lasting power of attorney and funeral arrangements.
She said: “It’s really good to have guest speakers because it’s easier to get information and it keeps carers up to date. It’s also important to do things carers don’t do when they’re not here, for example, Wiltshire Farm Foods came along recently to do some food tasting, and I also organised for a woman to do hand massages.”
The Peacehaven volunteers said they also host a variety of activities, such as games, quizzes, buffets and afternoon teas, throughout the year. It’s really important to have some fun and we always make sure we have a laugh. This help carers, especially people who are new to the group and might be dealing with a lot going on at home,” said Derek.
Wellbeing Groups are peer-led but a carer support worker attends every three to four months. The volunteers said this works well and they know they can call or email their carer support worker to discuss any concerns or to get advice.
Christine, Derek and Heather have co-hosted the Peacehaven group, which is attended by some 12 to 15 carers, for just over a year, and they say it’s been a good experience. Although they didn’t know each other very well before, since becoming hosts they have become firm friends.
Ruth said she also enjoys hosting the Hailsham group, which has a regular attendance of 12 carers. She said: “It’s a nice group and it is really important to us all. We’ve all become friends and people know they can talk about their caring role in the group because everyone understands as we’ve all gone through the same experience at one time or another.”
If you want to know more about a Wellbeing group near you, please download our group directory and if you want to know about our other groups and activities, or you are interested in hosting a Wellbeing Group in your area, please contact our Gateway service on 01323 738390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.