Lancing couple praise ‘lifeline’ short breaks service

A short breaks service which provides a ‘lifeline’ to carers and loved ones has been praised by a Lancing couple.

Marlene Mitchell is a full-time carer to her husband Ken, who has early onset dementia.

The couple recently enjoyed a weekend break at Roffey Park in Horsham as part of a short breaks services offered by Carers Support West Sussex.

The newly-funded services offers respite services for carers, giving them the chance to recharge their batteries and to enjoy a break on their own or with the person they care for.

Marlene told the Herald: “At first I thought, ‘oh yes it’s a little break for me by myself’ but then I realised it was for Ken as well.

“We both came and I did feel as though it was a marvelous break for me because I didn’t have to worry about Ken.

Lancing couple Marlene and Ken Mitchell have taken advantage of the short breaks service

Lancing couple Marlene and Ken Mitchell have taken advantage of the short breaks service

“There was someone here all the time looking after him, knowing exactly where he was, and he was doing things that he wanted to.

“I was free just to wander and do what I wanted to – relaxation, massage, everything that I think ‘oh yes, that would be nice to try’ and I was able to because it was really a weekend for me as well.

“The main thing was I didn’t have to worry about Ken, because there was someone here for him. I felt as though I had had my time to myself.”

Earlier this year, West Sussex County Council awarded contracts to a number of service providers so the breaks can continue for a further three years.

We both came and I did feel as though it was a marvelous break for me because I didn’t have to worry about Ken.

Marlene Mitchell

Carers Support West Sussex carried out a survey of carers about their own respite experiences to inform the process.

Paul McKay, county council’s director of adults’ services, said: “This service really does provide a lifeline for those who need it most.

“We really cannot underestimate the contribution the many family and friend carers we have here in West Sussex make to their communities, and to the quality of life for the people they care for.

“I hope that all those who attended the short break had a lovely time, and returned home feeling refreshed and revitalised.”

Lisa French, operations manager for Crossroads Care South Central, which deliver weekend breaks, said: “Carers have come away and said it is so nice to have someone else cook for them because their time is taken up looking after the person with dementia.

“They can go for a swim and do those things they used to do before becoming a carer.”