Beneficiaries are people we help. Some of them help us to help others. Many of us exchange information and give and receive help.
Does this mean me? Who are we trying to reach?
Unfortunately not all people who might benefit from extra help get the help they deserve. There are many reasons for this. The starting point for any organisation offering help is to carefully describe who it is they want to help. The description or name used must be so clear that anyone described will immediately realise they fit the description; this can be tricky.
What’s in a name?
We always think carefully about the language we use and listen to the people we work with to find the best way to reach out to people. It’s often hard to move away from convenient labels like “bereaved”, “socially isolated”, “frail-elderly” or “carer”.
Working with family care-givers
Most, but not all of the people we work with are family carers. Although it’s a bit clumsy, when describing family carers we prefer the name care-giver, but admittedly husband, wife, son, daughter, parent, friend, volunteer or good-neighbour are, perhaps, more recognisable. Care-giver is seen as a more active label and helps to demonstrate to other members of society the true value of caring. We want to encourage everyone we work with to take control and create personal action plans to help address their needs.
Soon after we started working with carers, we discovered that many people don’t realise the significance of their caring role; they just fit caring into their busy lives or see it as a duty. It can be unhealthy for the relationship label ‘carer’ to define anyone but we still must find ways for those responsible for looking after someone to recognise that the term ‘carer’ might apply to their circumstances before we begin to provide support.
Personal recognition or acceptance that someone is devoting time to an unpaid caring or befriending role will eventually enable dedicated carers to access services and welcome support. We believe that most socially isolated people, the bereaved and Britain’s army of unpaid care-givers can benefit from peer support and self-help but they must also have the right to choose from a range of well-funded, high-quality services (and be able to choose whether to use them).
Sharing the Care
Omega wants to encourage organisations, family, friends and other people within a person’s social network to ensure that no one known to them is left isolated, for example, by encouraging people to consider taking on the role of an extra care-giver. This might be someone who gives support remotely or provides support to a primary carer. This can be done by befriending, or providing some form of respite or another useful service or just being available from time to time at the end of a telephone.
Financial support is, of course, usually welcome from those not in a position to keep in touch or provide more direct care. Many frail and/or elderly people and family care-givers do not make use of the support available to them. Family members, employers, friends, neighbours, Third Sector organisations and businesses can all have a role in supporting carers and socially isolated people. People of different ages can support and help each other in many ways. Most could do more to support someone they know who would benefit from extra support.
Our clear message to anyone who is able to 'share the caring' is:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
If you want to do something to make a difference but are not sure how, please get in touch.
The importance of outreach - a grassroots approach
Supporting socially isolated individuals, the bereaved and family carer-givers, especially those caring for the dying, is everyone’s business. This responsibility extends to all health care professionals, employers, social, community and faith-based groups, families and - ultimately - to each of us as citizens. We embrace the principles of the Compassionate Communities agenda advocated by Professor Allan Kellehear. Our work in the community follows a ‘Sharing the Caring’ ethos targeted at encouraging friends and relatives of unpaid family care-givers to assume a caring role themselves. Our approach to outreach is targeted at the following issues:
- Finding and engaging with families in distress due to long-term illness
- Loneliness in an ageing population
- Supporting the bereaved
- Encouraging family members and the wider community to become involved in the caring process
Our carer support
Omega has delivered over 2000 dynamic facilitated group support session places to unpaid carers, former carers and the bereaved across the country. We offer a range of support sessions, including:
- Caring with Confidence style facilitated group information and support sessions run by expert Omega facilitators
- Outreach and Information Sharing Surgeries - An opportunity for unpaid carers and professionals to exchange ideas and resources and to welcome new carers to the Omega support network
- Regular Meeting Point Support Groups and social events - more informal gatherings for carers to catch up and benefit from mutual support
- Omega Chatterbox – a flexible befriending service
About Caring with Confidence
Omega support sessions have been held in the following areas: Birmingham, Dudley, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Leeds, Merseyside, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Downloads:
- Omega Caring with Confidence Success
- Caring with Confidence Leaflet - For All Carers
- Caring with Confidence Leaflet - For Carers of People Nearing the End of Life
- Caring with Confidence Leaflet - For the Bereaved
How Do We Define Carers?
- Primary or main care-giver(s)
Most carers fall into this category (this definition recognises that carers can usually benefit from support themselves). We want to highlight the concept of giving care and we want to reflect the fact that there can be more than one primary care-giver.
- Other unpaid care-givers
This label is used to emphasise the benefits associated with 'sharing the caring' and getting people to do the right thing more often, and for longer. Care-givers and befrienders can support each other and they can also receive support from friends, relatives, statutory and Third Sector organisations and from business owners.
Omega Bereavement Support
Omega is able to offer bereavement support to individuals and groups. This usually consists of facilitated group activity and friendly taster sessions. We support former carers, existing carers and people in need of extra support. We can offer one-to one support and can arrange for you to get involved with the Omega Chatterbox telephone befriending service. We are always happy to welcome new members to existing meeting point support groups.
We remain in contact with former carers after their caring role has ended. We also work with people who would welcome more social interaction and a little extra help re-engaging with their own social network. We will offer you opportunities to exchange information meet new friends and learn new skills.
Some Interesting Facts
- More than 21,000 older people a year are dying alone without family or friends willing or able to pay for burials and cremations, with some regions seeing a 14% jump in the numbers of "paupers' funerals" in the last five years, foreshadowing a crisis in social care, Grey Pride campaigners for elderly people claim. (Source: The Guardian, November 28th 2011)
- A study by Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow found around 60 people a week die alone without the support of friends and family.
- It is estimated that 3.5 million people aged over 65 live alone in the UK. (Source: BBC News, December 29th 2005)
- The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is a remarkable £119 billion per year. (Source: Carers UK, Valuing Carers 2011)