Cash boost for project to aid carers

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A PROJECT aimed at supporting people who care for the terminally ill has been awarded more than £120,000.

The Edinburgh University-run study will use the cash to ensure carers are receiving the right help.

The project leader, Professor Scott Murray, was the only Scottish researcher to receive a grant from the Dimbleby Marie Curie Cancer Care Research Fund, set up in memory of journalist Richard Dimbleby.

Prof Murray, who heads the Primary Palliative Care Research Group within the Centre for Population Health Sciences, said: “Often people who care for patients nearing the end of their lives do not regard themselves as carers, they just see themselves as being family.

“Many are failing to access support, be it financial or social. They might have different needs or worries to the patient, they go through the same helter-skelter of emotions.

“We aim to flag up anyone who is caring for a patient and develop support for them to ensure they don’t wear themselves out.

“As a group, family carers have not been focused upon in the past and it is an area which requires attention.”

The scheme, which will start in October and run for two years, will take place in four GP practices across the Capital. It will be run in conjunction with Voices of Carers Across Lothian and Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh.

Prof Murray said: “GPs, practice nurses and district nurses are ideally placed to help family carers because they meet with people in that position every day.”

The announcement of the £122,000 grant coincides with National Carers’ Week, which recognises the contribution made by six million unpaid carers in the UK.

Applications were invited from research teams focusing on the circumstances of unpaid carers and the education needed to help them gain the practical and nursing skills to care for loved ones at home.

Dr Teresa Tate, medical adviser and research lead for Marie Curie Cancer Care, said: “All of us who care for terminally ill people are aware of the essential role of so-called informal carers – usually a patient’s partner, children and other relatives. But there has been very little research into the pressures they face, or how they could best be supported.

“Projects such as this will provide evidence about carers’ needs and how they can be met.”

Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, trustee of Dimbleby Cancer Care, said: “The outcome of these first-rate research projects will play a major part in improving the support for these carers in the future.”

Case study: ‘Hospice team care was exceptional’

Jackie Callander, who cared for her terminally ill husband Henry, said she was “lucky” to have received so much support.

Her GP recognised she would require support and put her in touch with the Capital’s Marie Curie hospice.

Henry, pictured inset, who had Motor Neurone Disease, died in 2010 having suffered from the illness for 18 months. Jackie, 62, from Pathhead, said: “It was a very difficult time when my husband was diagnosed. He was a very strong man, an ex-soldier, and determined not to complain.

“I was really lucky to have such a fantastic GP. She put me in touch with the Marie Curie Hospice and over the next year I went there once a month, to talk with a nurse called Katherine.

“It was wonderful to have that time for me – she even suggested I bring my children along when they came home to visit, so we all went along.

“The hospice team took us in as a package but treated us as individuals. The care was exceptional.

“I don’t know how we would have coped without the help they offered.”