I’ve spent some time on the blog telling you what I’m not happy about from a carer’s perspective. Now it’s time for me to say how I think the situation could be improved.
There are thousands of people across the country who are caring for others and, without them, this country would be in even more trouble. I’m talking about carers who care for friends /family / loved ones and are not paid for the hours of work they do.
I believe it’s accepted that caring puts an enormous strain on the carer’s mental health and general well being, so how do we protect this valuable resource?
All the current power and control rests with the disabled person at the moment. Whilst I understand the reasoning that this empowers the person giving them the ability to decide how to spend their care money (such as it is) they can choose to spend it on anything, eg CDs knowing that their ‘loved one’ will continue to provide the support needed.
Something needs to be done to empower and support the actual carers.
Quick break for some more of my background ………
A couple of years after Ray had his stroke my mum’s breast cancer returned and then she got secondary bone cancer. (My mum was my rock and inspiration!). At the start of the school summer holidays in 1992 I took her to the hospital for a check up. She was admitted and never came out. I spent every day travelling between our flat in London looking after Ray and Southend Hospital to be with mum. In fact the first time I left Ray alone over night
was to stay at the hospital with her. After she died, we had the funeral and I went straight back to work (I was Head of the incoming year 7 pupils and felt I had no choice – my mum would have agreed!). She was 64 😦
Now my dad was 10 years older than my mum and had been ill for many years and she supported him, sound familiar???? After she died I told him I would telephone him every night and visit once a week.
So there I was, looking after Ray, working full time in a stressful responsible job (that I loved) trying to do the right things for my dad and missing my mum so much. I hadn’t grieved for her, I was brought up to stick on the smile and get on with it. So I did …….. Until the morning came when my eyes would not stop leaking, I pulled the quilt over my head and refused to come out.
I’d reached breaking point, everybody needed stuff from me and I had nothing left to give. Depression had got me 😦
I went to the GP, got the pills, worked out that I needed to regain ‘me’. I managed to pull myself back from that but remember that, at that time, most of my coping strategies were chain smoking and chain eating, if you get the gist 🙂
BTW I spent the next 10 years ringing him every night although the weekly visits had to stop!
Fast forward back to now ………..,
I have been SO close to those anti depressants again. I’ve even got as far as trying to make an appointment to see a doctor (but none were available!)
But I haven’t done it. Even when I have been at my very lowest points I’ve been pulled back.
How? No, who!
Darryl, my trainer, does not just beat me up.
He KNOWS me, he understands what my life is like, listens to what is happening / how I’m feeling, makes me reflect on my thoughts, never judges but helps me plan how I’m going to move forward, ensures I look after myself not just others ……… And then he hammers me!
The last couple of years have been incredibly difficult and I wouldn’t have survived as well without him (more about personal trainers in a future blog)!
So, back to carers.
I really believe carers need something for them.
I’m not talking about a direct money payment. That would get caught up in paying bills, getting things for other people etc. I know cos I’ve done it!
No, I believe that carers need to be MADE to benefit from the provision.
I’d strongly advocate personal training for all carers. It makes you physically and mentally stronger and therefore more able to tackle your caring role and gives you strategies to let go of your aggression (which like me you probably didn’t know you had)
Sadly, not everybody would choose this, although everybody could do it and would benefit from it.
But other things could be offered. Treatments such as massages or facials. Classes in cookery or other interests.
The only criteria should be that they have to be done by the carer!
Yes, it would cost money but, if we improve the quality of life for carers that will have a knock on effect for the cared for.
If mental health improves there will be less need for medication and GP time.
If this was offered to me I would feel that somebody was actually valuing what I do and was caring for me in return.
I’d love to know what you think!