Care appeal in spite of fees

PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

CARERS who look after frail or disabled family member 24-hours a day often need a helping hand so they can enjoy the rare luxury of a time to themselves. As a result Herts County Council is appealing for volunteers to join their Breakaway for Carers schem

CARERS who look after frail or disabled family member 24-hours a day often need a helping hand so they can enjoy the rare luxury of a time to themselves. As a result Herts County Council is appealing for volunteers to join their Breakaway for Carers scheme in St Albans, London Colney, Bricket Wood, Harpenden, Redbourn and Wheathampstead. Breakaway is a sitting service that helps carers take breaks by arranging for someone else to take over for a few hours. But the appeal for Breakaway comes at the same time as the county council is due to consider increasing charges for adult care services which often provide the only break for carers. On Monday the county council's cabinet meets to discuss the results of the consultation into the proposed increases which could also include the introduction of charges for services from which people were previously exempt such as five-hours-a-week day care. Urging people to consider volunteering for Breakaway, Cllr David Lloyd, the county council's Executive Member for Adult Care Services, said: "Sparing a little time to be a Breakaway volunteer could make a big difference to someone's life. "Even small things like shopping, going to the hairdresser or having coffee with a friend are impossible for people who look after someone who is totally dependant." Having a sitter has made a big difference to the lives of a Harpenden couple, John and Margaret. Margaret, who is 80, has Alzheimer's disease and has become increasingly confused and unable to manage for herself. John said: "We've had a Breakaway sitter for about a year now and that is a great help. She usually comes for about two or three hours on a Thursday afternoon. It gives me some free time so I can get out of the house to go shopping or do anything else that needs to be done." Harry became a Breakaway sitter after answering an advert appealing for volunteers in Harpenden and now sits for three people. He said: "It only takes a few hours a week and it's just a matter of keeping them company and making sure that they're okay while their carers get a break. Breakaway could do with more volunteers, especially men." Anyone who is interested in volunteering is asked to contact Penny Pulley (St Albans, London Colney and Bricket Wood) or Yemi Adegbite (Harpenden, Redbourn and Wheathampstead) on 01442 388715 or email breakaway@hertscc.gov.uk Volunteers are paid a fee for their services and travel expenses and while no previous training is necessary, experience caring for someone could be useful. The sitters are not expected to carry out toileting, housework or personal care. All are given some training and have to be police checked before they can start.

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