'I'm passionate in supporting carers': The new worker who wants to help thousands of Hartlepool's unsung carer heroes
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Sharon Cook has been appointed as the hospital liaison officer with Hartlepool Carers.
She will work full-time between the Hartlepool and North Tees hospital sites and will liaise with carers and make sure that they speak to the right people in hospital.
The new appointment stems back to the days when the pandemic meant that, if someone had to go in to hospital, their carer couldn’t go in with them.
Patients might have conditions such as dementia and may not always be able to tell the hospital teams their whole story.
‘This can be such a stressful time for families’
But Sharon will be there to help from February 1 and that’s not her only role.
Group chief executive Christine Fewster they would be working in partnership with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust to ‘help identify unpaid carers as early as possible in their caring role’.
She said Sharon would be ‘the first point of call for anyone providing unpaid care to loved ones. We know many members of our community require essential support to attend appointments and support loved ones when admitted to hospital. This can be such a stressful time for families, especially the person providing care.
You could be a carer and not know it
"We want to ensure carers understand they do not need to be in receipt of any carer specific benefits, caring for a certain number of hours or be in a paid capacity to receive our support.”
Hartlepool Carers currently work with 4,000 town people who provide a carers role. But that’s just a third of the estimated 12,000 people who do the work of a carer for their loved ones without getting paid for it.
Christine added: “We can help identify services that may be available to families and ensure carers have access to essential services.
"Providing care can be challenging, especially within the current cost of living crisis. We are looking forward to work with Health colleagues to ensure our community can access to the right support at the right time’.
Sharon can’t wait to get started
Sharon said: “I am very passionate in supporting carers and look forward to applying the skills I have developed throughout my professional career to raise awareness of informal carers in hospital settings’.
She has already helped Hartlepool people thanks to her professional background in mental health nursing, most recently supporting Hartlepool carers in the community which she said was ‘very empowering’.
A royal award winner
The carers group has had a year to remember. It was presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in a ceremony at the Sir William Gray suite at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool last August.
The award reflects the huge difference that the group has made in the 28 years since it first formed. It represents 4,000 adult carers, thousands of children, and has 42 volunteers.
Now it has added to its role with Sharon’s appointment.
For further information, contact Christine or Sharon on (01429) 283095 or call into Hartlepool Carers, at 19a Lowthain Road, Hartlepool.