Carer praises support of St Catherine’s Hospice during Carers Week
A woman who has spent the last 11 years caring for her husband as he fights a host of incurable medical conditions has thanked St Catherine’s Hospice for support which is allowing her to spend precious time with him as his wife and not only his carer.
Debra and Steve Hoomans (pictured on their wedding day two years ago) are celebrating their anniversary together on the In-Patient Unit at the Lostock Hall hospice today with a special meal prepared by the kitchen, champagne to toast their relationship, and fairy-lights to decorate the bedroom.
Debra is sharing her experiences of the hospice and how it is helping and supporting her during Carers Week – a national campaign which runs from June 10 to 17, designed to celebrate the often unsung and yet invaluable roles carers play.
Debra – full-time carer for Steve who has end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along with heart and lung failure, and is confined to a wheelchair due to a problem with his spine – has been attending the Carers’ Drop-In sessions held at the hospice on the first Tuesday of the month for the past two years.
She has received expert advice, peer support and some much-needed ‘me time’ during her visits, and is now also feeling confident to move from the role of carer to wife as Steve is looked after on the In-Patient Unit.
Debra, from Bolton Road, Chorley, said: “As a carer you feel like you’re constantly fighting the outside world to get the things you need – but here at St Catherine’s everybody wants to help, and nothing is taboo – you really feel like you can be honest about what support you need and how you are feeling.
“The drop-in sessions have been brilliant – the Family Support Team from St Catherine’s has helped with information and advice when I’ve needed it, and I’ve also received treatments like massage, Reiki and other complementary therapies. Things like that feel a bit strange at first as you’re not used to having time to yourself – but getting rid of that pain in your shoulders, or easing that tension in your head, really does give you the strength to keep you going.
“Being with other people who are going through similar experiences and knowing you are not on your own is another boost.”
Debra, aged 45, said since Steve’s condition had deteriorated and he had been admitted to the In-Patient Unit she was now experiencing the care of St Catherine’s in another way.
She explained: “I have been Steve’s carer for 11 years and it has been hard to let go when he came onto the In-Patient Unit. But now I can take a step back, it is giving us that time Steve and I have never had – time to be husband and wife. We can sit and relax, talk, and enjoy our time together – time which is so precious now we have reached this stage of Steve’s illness.
“It is also taking the pressure off me – as a carer you take so much on your shoulders, in a list of 10 priorities you are always 11. It wears you down physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But the support St Catherine’s provides takes that pressure off and also offers that bit of ‘me time’ which is so important.”
Steve, aged 46, praised Debra and the thousands of other carers in the UK – adding that Carers Week was a great opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for all that they do.
He said: “Debra is absolutely wonderful – she puts up with so much and is so full of love and care.
“I think carers and the work they do does go unnoticed and unrecognised – after all, in my opinion they are doing the hardest job in the world. Not only is it hard practically and physically, it is also so emotionally draining because they are looking after someone they love. And they certainly can’t clock off at 5pm!
“I’m pleased to speak out as part of Carers Week – to help Debra and the thousands like her receive the recognition they deserve, and also to thank St Catherine’s for the support they are giving us.”
Cheryl Scott, Family Support Manager at St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “We have been privileged as a hospice in making a difference to Debra and Steve’s lives, by understanding what is important to them and responding to their end of life journey in a meaningful way.
“We’re proud to support Carers Week 2013 and hope it leads to the hundreds of carers across Central Lancashire who do such an important job receiving the recognition they deserve.”
The St Catherine’s Hospice Carers Drop-In sessions take place on the first Tuesday of the month at the hospice in Lostock Hall. All carers are welcome – not just those with a connection to St Catherine’s. For more information visit www.stcatherines.co.uk/carersupport or call 01772 629171.
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