CARERS in Dorset are being offered the chance to go on a new training course free of charge with St John Ambulance’s carers support programme.

It will include first-aid details about how to save a life as well as important caring skills.

The course is on offer for any adult who looks after relatives, friends or neighbours. Participants learn basic first aid skills including dealing with bleeding, burns, choking, fractures, hypothermia and how to put an unconscious person in the recovery position.

The programme, which involves four weekly three-hour sessions, also covers managing incontinence issues and stress, safer moving and handling, preventing falls and coping with dementia. The course is accredited by the Royal College of Nursing and is taught by an experienced nurse. The courses are taking place at Sturminster Newton starting on Wednesday February 27, at Swanage starting on Wednesday April 17 and at Dorchester on Thursday April 18.

Carer Eileen Laidler, who lives in Cattistock, recommends the programme to anyone who looks after another person. She cares for her 76-year-old husband Joseph, who suffered a spinal injury years ago, and she took part in the first Carer’s Support Programme in 2003.

She had to put her skills into practice last November when Joseph had a serious fall while they were out with their 14-year-old grandson in Sherborne.

She explained: “Joseph walks with a stick and his legs just went away from him. He took a really heavy fall on the road right on his head. He was bleeding quite badly from the head and complaining of a pain in his back. All my training came back to me because I knew I had to keep my grandson calm and deal with Joseph.

“His head was bleeding quite badly but he was complaining of a pain in his back so I knew he had to be kept still. I knew it was important that I kept his airway clear while we waited for an ambulance.”

Carers who attend will get a free small first-aid kit, a first-aid guide and refreshments as well as lunch. St John Ambulance says places are limited, so booking is essential by email to or by calling 01305 751160.