DMWS has been awarded £10,000 by the Valentine Charitable Trust to support a new project focusing on providing support to Armed Forces Carers in Dorset. In collaboration with PramaLife, DMWS will provide specialist welfare services to carers in order to improve the overall wellbeing of those caring for vulnerable members of the Armed Forces community.
From September 2022, DMWS will operate a free and confidential wellbeing service where carers will be able to receive additional support from a professional, dedicated welfare officer who can help with:
- Enhancing their overall wellbeing by addressing financial worries, promoting access to statutory and third-sector services, and providing respite care.
- Reduce social isolation by providing practical support, companionship, and access to community-based activities.
- Assist carers with appointments, promote positive communication, and mediate any conflicts, while advocating the unique needs of the Armed Forces community to healthcare professionals.
DMWS have established a Welfare Service in Dorset over the past two years, during which time we have noticed that Armed Forces Carers in the area are often struggling to cope, feeling exhausted, unsupported, and unsure where to turn for help. To better understand the needs of these individuals, DMWS conducted a scoping review in collaboration with PramaLife and NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group in 2022. There were 202 respondents, 138 of which identified as caregivers. 135 of these respondents felt that being a caregiver has a negative impact on their mental or physical health, including exhaustion, stress, isolation, the loss of identity, financial problems, and relationships.
Given that there are 58,000 people with a military pension across the county, with 1 in 8 of the UK adult population being carers, we estimate there could be 7,250+ carers in Dorset experiencing both the social and economic strain of providing care. More than 23% of respondents in our study care for someone suffering from mental illness, including PTSD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and acute psychosis. Furthermore, 33% of caregivers care for someone who is frail due to ageing, has arthritis, is disabled, or has cancer.
In addition, the study found that 126 out of the 202 respondents were not aware of any support services available, 103 were not registered as carers with their general practitioner, and 50% felt there was not enough local support.
It is evident from these findings that caregivers who provide life-changing support to members of the Armed Forces Community need assistance. Consequently, we have designed a service which not only advocates for the unique needs of the Armed Forces community but also offers a compassionate and comprehensive service that is rooted in the local needs of Dorset’s Armed Forces community.
With the support of The Valentine Charitable Trust, we will be able to provide this vital, life-changing service not only to those who have served their country, but also to those who give their time, energy, and resources to support our nation’s veterans.
PramaLife works in Bournemouth, Christchurch, East Dorset and Poole offering a wide range of activities and services which look to directly tackle social isolation and lead to increased personal independence, and help people enjoy life as they age. For more information on PramaLife please visit https://www.pramalife.org/
The St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service (known as DMWS) is a registered charity in England and Wales (1087210) and in Scotland (SC045460)
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