‘I didn’t think I would have got through the last year...’

Support: Debra Hoomans and her husband Steve in the grounds of St Catherine's
Support: Debra Hoomans and her husband Steve in the grounds of St Catherine's
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A mum has spoken out about the challenges and pressures carers face as part of a national awareness campaign designed to recognise the vital role they play.

Debra Hoomans has been the main carer for her husband Steve for the past 12 years.

The last 12 months have been the hardest but, she says, she would not have got through them without the support of St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall, near Preston.

Now, she has been helping mar national carers which, which ends on Sunday, by putting the spotlight on the difficult circumstances carers face, and encouraging those in caring roles to ask for support when they need it.

Debra said: “People often feel like they are failing if they ask for help - but it’s just not true.

“Being a carer can be incredibly lonely - it can feel like you’re the only person in the world going through it. But be assured you’re not - and there are people who can help share the burden.”

Steve, who has end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease along with heart and lung failure and is wheelchair bound, has seen his condition deteriorate over the past year - and on several occasions Debra has feared the worst.

Last summer he was admitted to the hospice as a in-patient and Debra didn’t think he would be going home.

She said: “We moved house, got a place which is better set up and equipped. Then in November he had another bad time - again I tried to prepare myself and thought ‘this is it’ but he came through, only to face another bad spell again in March.”

Steve is now back at the hospice, where the medical and nursing team are working to get his pain better managed.

The couple, from Chorley, has also received visits from the hospice befriending team, and she has weekly counselling sessions with a volunteer counsellor at the hospice.

Debra, a medical secretary, said: “I don’t think I would have got through the past year without St Catherine’s.

Cheryl Scott, Family Support Manager at St Catherine’s said: “People don’t fully appreciate the extent of the caring role as they don’t often see themselves as carers.”