Wanted: Shields Carers To Look After Vulnerable Adults

EVERYONE should be given the opportunity to live a full and independent life. That is the philosophy of South Tyneside Council’s Adult Placement Scheme (APS).

Established in 2004 by South Tyneside Social Care and the Health Directorate, the scheme recruits carers who integrate people with learning activities into their homes.

The main aim is to allow disadvantaged adults to live a full and independent life so they can become a valued member of their community.

And judging by the happy faces in the bowling alley and on pool tables at the Dunes amusement arcade in Sea Road, South Shields, the scheme is a huge success.

But there’s just one problem – there’s a shortage of adult placement carers in South Tyneside.

Each carer goes through rigorous testing and, if successful, they are trained for the role and are provided with on-going support and assistance from the scheme’s managers.

“There seems to be a shortage in South Tyneside,” explained Jon Laws, adult placement manager.

“I think people don’t understand the level of commitment involved. Maybe they think it’s more than they can give.

“But people can try short-term breaks to see what it’s like. They can take care of someone for one night and see how they cope.”

A carer can receive from £320 to £365 a week for full-time care of an adult.

“The carers get a substantial sum of money for their work, but the real reward is seeing how they can improve someone’s life,” Jon added.

“It takes a certain type of person to be a carer – if you’re naturally caring and are a people person who has a zest for life, then you’ll be great.

“It’s great for me to see the carers improving the adults’ social skills. They do a wonderful job.

“The satisfaction they get out of it is far more rewarding than the financial gain.”

It can take up to four months to become a carer from the time of application, however, it depends on the experience of the applicant.

Each candidate undergoes written assessments and their background is checked. The scheme then funds them through the appropriate courses before they start caring.

The scheme expects all its carers to be flexible and sensitive to the needs of people with learning difficulties and their families.

One person who has been a carer since the scheme started is Sue Rutherford, who homes three special needs adults – Les Mills, 55, Yvonne Rooney, 60, and Irene Edwards, 64.

Sue, 54, who lives with the three adults, along with son Michael, 17, and husband Colin, in Jarrow, said: “Every single day of my life is different.

“It can be totally hectic and stressful one day, but full of joy the next.

“I think my household has the most laughter in the world. We have a great time together.

“I see Les, Yvonne and Irene as my family, I love them and I love spending time with them.

“I live with my family as well, of course, and they love them. My son never stops laughing with them.

“Although it has its moments, the feeling of satisfaction you get from knowing you are making a big difference to their lives can’t be beaten.

“I’d recommend it to anyone who genuinely cares for people.”

* Anyone interested in becoming a carer can call Jon Laws on 424 4787.