It’s now more than four years since I moved back to Dad’s house to help look after him.
Wow. Time sure flies. If you’d told me at the beginning that I would still be a carer more than four years down the line, I would probably have dived under the duvet and refused to come out.
Of course, it’s not all that bad. I’ve learnt a lot in those four years and I’ve shared some really precious moments with Dad. But there’s one question that does flit through my head now and again, usually around four in the morning (yeah, it’s one of those).
So what is this pesky question? Read More
When people think of what it takes to be a family carer, it’s usually personal qualities that spring to mind, such as patience, empathy or kindness.
But there’s another less obvious skill that’s equally necessary. Read More
It’s amazing how quickly a day can go pear-shaped, as what I’d hope to achieve evaporates in the face of unplanned events.
It can happen to anyone, of course. The baby that keeps you up all night teething. The train that gets inexplicably cancelled. The colleague that calls in sick. The coffee cup that spills all over your white shirt just before you go into an important meeting (yes, that was me). We aren’t as in control of life as we’d like to think.
But disrupted plans and frustrated expectations seem to happen to me more as a carer than they ever did before. Read More
The first time my we left my father at a care home for a week of respite, I went home and cried.
Damn that respite guilt. Read More
At the latest meeting of our local Carers’ Support Group we were joined by a new member who is caring for someone with dementia. As we talked, it became clear that they were struggling. Some of their friends and neighbours had “disappeared” since the dementia diagnosis was made and didn’t visit or keep in touch anymore. The person admitted that they felt lonely.
Fortunately, I have great support and loneliness is not an issue for me. Nevertheless, the person’s comments struck a chord. Read More
We’re lucky. Really lucky. We have a wonderful local carer (take a bow Lorna!) who comes in every weekday morning to get Dad breakfasted, washed, dressed and up and about. Dad enjoys her company and it’s time out for me. Winners all round.
Lorna is paid through the Self-Directed Support Scheme (SDS).
Under SDS our family is given money by the local Council Social Work Department (or Health and Social Care Partnership as it is now) to employ our own carer. The carer can be of our own choosing and for the hours that we want (within our designated budget). It’s designed to be flexible, responsive to the individual’s needs and put the individual and their family in control. In principle, it’s a sound idea – but there’s one major flaw. Read More
I really don’t want to count up just how much money it’s cost me to be a full-time carer. If you add the money I’ve taken out of my cash savings to potential lost earnings in the last four years, you are easily talking around £45,000 - £50,000 and frankly, that’s being conservative. Read More
I spend a lot of time with Dad just sitting. Sometimes I’ll be reading out stories from the newspaper or a magazine. Sometimes we’ll be watching a TV programme together. Sometimes I’ll just be keeping him company while he rests or has a wee snooze.
If he’s left on his own too long Dad can become anxious – worried that he’s been forgotten about or abandoned. So sometimes it’s important just to be there.
All in all, it’s a lot more sitting around of an afternoon or evening than I would otherwise choose. It can get a little frustrating at times – and that’s where knitting comes in. Read More
Last week someone (I’m going to call him Derek) made a comment that struck me as a little odd at the time and still has me puzzled more than a week later.
When I mentioned that I was trying to get back to some part-time work Derek said, “Yes, you’ve got to get back to real life sometime, haven’t you?”
According to Carers UK statistics there are 6.5 million carers in the UK. That’s more than the population of Scotland, where I live. It’s more than the populations of Wales and Northern Ireland combined. It’s even more than the audience who settle down on Sunday evenings to watch the new series of Poldark.
We’re a not-so-small army. But we’re a remarkably low-profile army. We don’t figure highly in the political, economic or cultural conversations of the day. Read More