‘Caring for the Carers’
One of my dance Movement psychotherapy groups for the elderly highlighted how very important it is to be attentive to not only the needs and ways of the client but also of the person caring for them.
Carers and support workers seem to carry a huge amount of stress, which seems to be attributed to the fact that they themselves need a huge amount of care!
Whilst being mindful of their situation I also know that it is the clients or guests (as is the case of the place I work at) whose time it is for session / therapy etc. and therefore the emphasis must naturally be upon them.
This particular group comprised of some women with dementia, some with a huge frailty, one woman recovering from a stroke and others suffering the general effects of old age. Many of these people attended the group on a regular basis as part of their emotional and physical wellbeing plan. Their carer was often the most constant support and, at the same time source of anxiety! In addition, oftentimes they tended to change and I could detect that when this happened the whole situation seemed a little tense (which is obviously expected some) and from my point of view in need of attention.
What seems important?
Daily I am observing these scenarios and am at the same time responsible for a workshop that addresses the importance of touch essentially, as well as offering different techniques to enable the carers to not only better understand the needs of the person they are responsible for but to give them real tools to do this. This seems to help a great deal as the feedback is nothing but positive every time.
Whilst integrating the carers into a group is essential oftentimes, it is hard work, as they often do not truly understand the importance of their presence. Or, more importantly the importance of the process and experience for their clients. An experience comes to mind as I’m writing this where the carer insisted on talking of her troubles and poking fun at the client continually all in the name of ‘knowing her for many years and being like her sister’. The client clearly loved the carer but I wondered about the real, if any therapeutic benefit being had by her!
Carers care but I can imagine a training course for them in the form of a weekly therapy group could have enormous benefit as I feel a therapeutic developmental training or personal development process absolutely necessary for them to experience. The one-day workshop that I lead at work definitely helps and opens up latent abilities and new awareness within them and what’s more it is a lot of fun but I think too that they need to be educated in the areas of touch at a deeper level and of empathy. This cannot be a cognitive process, but one that they experience themselves through their own bodies and psychology.
Next year I plan to begin a project for carers. Information and details will be available soon. Please email me if you are a carer yourself and would like to participate.
Hope to hear from you
Hope you have a LOVELY Christmastime