25 May 2016

A positive step for carers in North Somerset

Positive stepsPositive Step North Somerset's psychological therapies (IAPT) service has helped more than 500 carers with therapy and support since launching three years ago.

The service is jointly run between our Trust and charity Second Step and is made up of 14 psychotherapists and 15 wellness advisors, providing psychological therapies for people with common mental health issues such as anxiety or panic, trauma, obsessions and depression.

Positive Step has a dedicated carers programme so support carers. This was commissioned in 2013 following research which indicated many of North Somerset's 20,000 carers were struggling to cope.

Referrals have increased year upon year as closer ties with local agencies have led to more carers getting the help they need.

Emphasis is on how support is offered as well as the therapy itself. Those who need intensive help receive one-to-one support, by phone or face-to-face. Carers are offered a course of workshops or can do single workshops as and when required. This is important for carers who have very little regular time to devote to themselves.

Former businessman and ex-Royal Marine reservist Nick was caring for his wife of 48 years at home when he was put in touch with Positive Step.

"It came in the nick of time for me, to be honest," he said. "I'd been looking after her for three years and it was just completely soul destroying. I was completely mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted."

With other carers, Nick learned how to manage his anxiety and stress and was taught vital relaxation techniques which helped him to sleep.

"Positive Step gave me the strength I needed to carry on. Even just going along to the workshop for a couple of hours was refreshing. It was very emotional too. The other people were also carers and had similar problems, so we could all share. We knew with empathy where they were coming from, even if they didn't have the words."

Tim Kendall, NHS England's National Clinical Director for Mental Health said, "Positive Step is really helping to take the pressure off carers in North Somerset.

"Too often, we hear of carers struggling to carry the burden of looking after loved ones, and yet a simple scheme such as this with relatively minor changes to how therapies are delivered can make all the difference in the world."

Senior Therapist at Positive Step Heather Dugmore said, "It's not rocket science, but it's how you deliver and shape the service for carers which can make a huge difference."

If you are a carer in North Somerset, you can refer yourself by contacting Positive Step directly. Referrals can also be made through your GP.

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