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Charity registration number: 1128809

Cheshire East Carers Hub: Lou's Story

Lou, who cares for her daughter Isobel, contacted the Service Access Team, which was recommended to her by a psychiatric nurse. Isobel has lupus and bipolar disorder, and Lou, who also has mental health issues of her own, cares for her full time, whilst also having three other children and two grandchildren.

Katy, from Cheshire East Carers Hub, rang Lou but Lou was hesitant to meet up with her. She said she was nervous because she didn’t often leave the house, unless it was to take Isobel or her grandchildren to a medical appointment. Katy suggested that they meet in Costa Coffee, but Lou was concerned because she’d never been there before. To ease her worry, Katy told Lou to meet her outside and, because they hadn’t met before, they exchanged descriptions of themselves so that they knew who to look out for.

At the meeting, Katy encouraged Lou to talk about her family history and her caring role for 6 people. They touched on financial worries, Lou’s concerns about her own health, housing problems, self-harm, suicide attempts, and guardianship.

One of the issues was that the family didn’t understand bipolar disorder. Katy asked if it would help if she printed off a bipolar disorder fact sheet for Lou’s family and she said it would. Lou was also recommended talking therapies, and was signposted to One You and Pathfinder for benefits checks and debt advice.

The next time they met, Lou still wouldn’t go inside Costa Coffee by herself. She and Katy talked about housing benefits, debt, and checking bank statements, as well as completing a Carer’s Assessment and a Living Well Fund application. Katy also gave Lou information on groups and events which could ease some of her pressure, such as Carer Breaks and any relevant training she might like to go to.

Upon Lou and Katy’s third meeting, Lou went inside Costa Coffee by herself. She seemed to be much happier, and said that she was having a trial of a sleep aid machine to help her sleep apnoea. She said that she’d been for a swim before the meeting to prepare for her One You gym membership.

When Katy gave Lou a follow up call, she found out that Lou had been in touch with Pathfinder and One You and, with actions being set in motion, she was looking forward to getting some exercise and time for herself. Another huge positive was that Isobel had adjustments made to her medication, which was taking pressure off both her and the rest of the family. 

Lou was awarded £200 from the Living Well Fund and Katy had encouraged her to go along to the Coffee and Chat group that she runs. Lou said that she would definitely go to the next one, so Katy will phone her to remind her beforehand.

Overall, she was delighted with the experience, particularly the emotional support, and said: “Having someone to talk to has been great and being able to go somewhere out of the house and have time for me has made me want to continue to do this. Thrilled with the Living Well Fund award and looking forward to using this.”

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