To coincide with Parent Mental Health Day this month, Fiona Mitchell explores how Crossroads Care supports the well-being of local parent carers looking after children with complex needs

All parents experience some form of stress at different points in their lives, but caring for a child with profound disability often means prolonged periods of pressure which can take a huge toll on their mental and physical health and well-being.

With over 35 years of experience in supporting carers including people caring for children with profound disabilities, from birth through to adulthood and beyond, Crossroads Care understands that parent carers can often experience feelings of frustration, loneliness and isolation. Without a break and appropriate support, this situation can often lead to breaking point and ultimately family breakdown.

Even on the rare occasions when they are able to take timeout from their caring role, Crossroads is all too aware that carers often use this time to undertake house household tasks or attend appointments.

That’s why Crossroads Care has been running a Mental Health and Well-being Support Programme for Parent Carers and Children with Disability, thanks to the generous donations of people bidding at a silent auction at The Victoria Foundation’s annual balls.

The programme has been running for a number of years now and offers an extensive range of therapies which include well-being workshops as well as individual reiki and massage sessions, yoga on a one-to-one basis, or tailored to bigger groups or specifically for families.

All sessions happen in a place that suits the parent carer best – be it the family home or the Therapy Rooms at the Crossroads Care head office – which have been fully refurbished, thanks once again to a generous donation from The Victoria Foundation.

Parent carers say that these sessions have become a lifeline to them, helping them to cope better with the enormous strain that they are under on a daily basis.

One parent carer, mother to a profoundly disabled boy, has taken part in several Crossroads family well-being sessions. She said: ‘I’m the primary carer for my son who requires round-the-clock attention due to his complex and unstable epilepsy. He and my daughter also both have special educational needs.
‘I’m always looking after everybody else, but there’s no one to look after me. I feel like I’m being looked after in these sessions and that feels incredibly healing. They are a bonding experience for our family too.’