It's time for me....... for a change.
Women and men faced with the demands of caring for a loved one do not usually have the time, energy or opportunity to think about themselves. But over the past year and a half a range of unique personal development programmes funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) in conjunction with the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), has turned this on its head for 106 female carers and 30 male carers from Fermanagh, Omagh, Strabane and Derry/Londonderry.
During a major carers’ celebration event today, at the Silver Birches Hotel in Omagh, Health Minister Edwin Poots was present to commend these women and men, who face enormous demands as carers. The Minister was able to congratulate all those who graduated from three key personal development programmes pioneered by Me Unltd, ‘It’s All About Me’ (women carers), What About Me? (male carers under 60 years) and COSY-M (Carers over sixty years - male).
Honouring carers at the Me Unltd New Year Carers’ Hoopla Part II Event in Omagh the Minister said: “Carers make an enormous contribution towards helping family members and friends to remain in their own homes, and live more independent, fulfilling lives.
“It is very clear that the efforts and personal sacrifices of individual carers result in dramatically improved outcomes for the health and wellbeing of those who need care most.
“Supporting individuals to live at home for longer also offers benefits in terms of sustaining close personal relationships and maintaining social networks in the wider community.
“It is important that carers are afforded equal status with other providers of care, and recognised as true expert partners with the opportunity to contribute to the commissioning, planning, design, delivery and review of services to support the caring role in relation to the people they care for.”
Elaine Way, Chief Executive of the Western Trust also attended and said: “I’d like to thank Me Unltd for inviting me to speak at this hugely successful event today and I congratulate them on developing programmes that clearly make such a difference to carers’ lives. Anyone who heard the carers speak today must have been both encouraged and humbled by their stories.
“The Trust is proud to work in partnership with Me Unltd and I’d also like to acknowledge my own staff for who work so hard to support carers. A special word of thanks is due to the Public Health Agency for funding this much needed programme for our local carers.”
The “Me” Programmes delivered by Me Unltd have provided all the carers involved with invaluable respite from the demands and stresses of caring, while learning about new ways in which they can improve their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Carers have learnt new self-management skills including time and stress management, as well as identifying a range social, training and employment options to avail of - motivating each to realise their full potential across all areas of their lives.
Speaking at the event, Brendan Bonner, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (West), PHA added, “The Public Health Agency was set up to promote good health and wellbeing within our population and to tackle the unjust health inequalities between the best and worst off in our society. We do this in partnership with the community and a wide range of organisations. Working with Me Unltd and the Western Health and Social Care Trust, the PHA is keen to support carers and the vital role they play looking after their relatives and friends and making a huge contribution to health and wellbeing.
“Personal development programmes are important in helping carers to see their own needs and have the confidence not only to look after themselves and their loved ones, but also to increase their skills, perhaps enhancing their future employability, for example. I am sure many have given up significant opportunities to undertake the role of carer. Courses that help improve wellbeing and skills contribute to carers’ personal support and, in a small way, acknowledge the significant responsibilities they take on for society.”
Over £12,500 worth of pro-bono services have been levered under Me Unltd’s Give-a-care Scheme from a range of health and well-being providers in Fermanagh, Omagh and Derry/Londonderry. This is being used to help carers to achieve goals set in their personal development plans.
At the carers’ celebration event, the carers involved in the last tranche of programmes were presented with Certificates of Outstanding Achievement, and Institute of Leadership and Management Development Awards and treated to a morning of inspirational speakers and stories from women and men who care. Me Unltd also presented seven “Me Time” groups with financial contribution as part of their ‘inspirational’ awards.