Today (Friday 10th June 2016) saw the formal opening of Carers in Bedfordshire’s Carers’ Lounge within St Mary’s Wing of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital by the Right Honourable Alistair Burt MP
The Carers Lounge offers unpaid family carers looking after a family member or friend a confidential, friendly place within the hospital where they can find out more about services available for their loved one and themselves. It is open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The Lounge is staffed by support staff and volunteers from local carers’ support charity Carers in Bedfordshire. Representatives from MIND, the Disability Resource Centre’s Confident Caring service, the Stroke Association, Alzheimer’s Society and Keech Hospice are available in the Lounge regularly to support carers.
Lounge Coordinator Saleha Khanom said: “At the Lounge, we have a huge range of resources and information to help carers including on welfare and benefits, dementia, cancer and caring for a child with disabilities. We invite carers to pop in for a chat and a cup of tea; they will always find a listening ear here at the Carers Lounge.”
Alistair Burt MP, who is President of Carers in Bedfordshire, said: “I am delighted to be part of the launch of the Carers Lounge at Luton & Dunstable Hospital. Carers do such a vital job looking after friends, family and loved ones, and we need to ensure that they are supported at all levels. Space to rest and relax, as well as talk to key agencies who can offer advice and information is a wonderful service for carers, and I commend Carers in Bedfordshire for their work over a long period to get this service in place.”
Luton Mayor, Cllr Tahir Khan; Deputy Chairman of Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Alison Clarke; Deputy Chief Nurse Sheran Oke and Carers in Bedfordshire Chief Executive Helen Satterthwaite spoke of their enthusiasm for the new service and the importance of supporting carers. The opening was attended by carers and representatives of voluntary and community organisations who support Luton’s Carers.
The brainchild of Carers in Bedfordshire founder, Yvonne Clark, the Carers Lounge has been several years in development and represents a partnership between Carers in Bedfordshire and the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has provided space for the Lounge.
Alison Clarke read out a message from Chairman Simon Linnett: “Carers fulfil a fundamental role in the delivery of a compassionate and familiar service to those they look after. We appreciate that you, too, need to be supported not just in improving your ability to look after those you care for but for yourselves to alleviate, in part, the immense burden you so willingly take on. We applaud you and, in the Lounge, hope to support you in the excellent work you do for which society, as a whole fails express sufficient gratitude.”
The Luton and Dunstable Carers Lounge is modelled on Carers in Bedfordshire’s award-winning Carers Lounge in Bedford Hospital. Many carers have found the service of value in the few months it has been open:
Gill Hawkins, 69, from Luton, cares for her husband who had a stroke. She came to the lounge for mobility and other enquiries while her husband was an inpatient. She wanted some support before discharge to make his return home manageable: Gill says ‘I felt very welcome to come to the Carers Lounge, it was very reassuring and helpful’.
Pam Maberley, 71, from Houghton Regis said “we were going through quite a lot. You had someone you could quite openly speak to and have a good cry in front of. It’s almost like running away from your problems for a while, and regaining your sanity.”
The service is funded by Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council and forms part of the Luton Carers Network, a group of charities and organisations who work together, funded by Luton Borough Council, to support carers living and caring for Luton residents who could not manage without them.
Sally Rowe, Director of People at Luton Borough Council, said: “We’re pleased to be working in partnership to deliver a carers lounge for people visiting the L&D hospital. We have thousands of carers in Luton and they play a very important role in our community so it’s important to us that they are supported, particularly in times of uncertainty and crisis. We really value our local carers and the Council is proud to be able to support a space for carers to relax and find out more about the services available to them or a loved one.”
Press Release Date: June 2016