Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is launching a new befriending phone line for carers on Wednesday 3 June. Carers can call 01865 901012 at any time and leave their details. A befriender will call back between 11am and 12 noon, Monday to Friday.
Di Hilson, carers’ lead for the trust, said: “Looking after someone, of any age, with a mental health illness, a physical health condition or a learning disability can be challenging. It can be lonely and make people feel cut off from others. The impact of COVID-19 is likely to have made some carers feel even more isolated and alone, with little or no contact with others.
“We recognise that family members, friends and carers of our patients may be having a difficult time and we want to support them. The befriending line offers an opportunity to have a friendly chat with someone.”
The line is not for emergencies and responders will not have access to any clinical information or be able to answer questions about a patient’s care. It is purely to support a family member, friend or carer. The service is being supported by staff and volunteers from Oxford Health, offering volunteers also a new role at a time when many can’t do their normal roles. The phone line itself has been funded through the Oxford Health Charity as part of the NHS Charities Together grant.
Di Hilson said ‘I am so excited that we are able to offer the befriending line. Caring is one of the most important things someone can do. It can be very rewarding, but can cause stress and strain, even more so during this challenging time. It is important that we look after the people who care for our patients. Their wellbeing is just as important. Taking a little time to talk to one of our befrienders may help brighten your day and help you feel less alone. I want to encourage our carers to pick up the phone and give us a call.”
Becca, one of the volunteer befrienders, said: “I am really excited to be part of the carers’ befriending line. Growing up as a carer myself I often I just got on and did it, without taking the time to care for myself. I am proud to be part of an initiative where carers are cared for.”
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