The Forgotten Carers

April 19 2020

Of course I fully respect and appreciate the extremely hard work that our wonderful NHS do, not only during the Covid-19 outbreak, but at all times. They definitely deserve pay rises and a cash injection, and so do home care workers, carers working in the community, Care Home staff and a special thanks too to the volunteers who are taking food, etc to vulnerable & low wage people & families, sometimes on a daily basis.

I just wish that occasionally, someone would acknowledge full time family carers, like myself, who live with loved ones, providing all forms of care - (which is even more so now that all the support services have been closed down for the foreseeable future) - I personally do it all with no help whatsoever, from anybody, or any authority or group. 

It’s a hard, thankless task, but I do it out of love. If I didn’t, my Mum would be “yet another drain on the public purse”, having to have 2 x specialist trained dementia care support workers coming in to her home, four times a day, ideally with one staying with her overnight. Or, Mum would be in a dementia trained Nursing Care Home, paid for by the local authority, as we don’t own any property to sell, or have any savings to fund the cost ourselves.  

It would just be nice if someone just said: “Well done”, or even acknowledged how many hundreds of thousands of pounds that I alone save the local authority & government, each and every year, by doing this ‘job’ - meaning they don’t have to fund 2 x specialist trained dementia care support workers for Mum, on a daily (and nightly) basis. 

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 Coronavirus, I was already very socially isolated and depressed. However, nobody cares about the family carers, living with and caring for family members 24/7, day in, day out. That’s been made perfectly obvious. 

I know that I speak for hundreds, if not thousands of family carers, in the same situation as me, so why don’t the local authorities and government do something about it? Weekly Carers Allowance is an absolute pittance. We should be paid the minimum hourly wage, at the very least. 

Everyday, I personally am doing the job of two fully trained Dementia Care Support Workers, PLUS the job of a fully trained Physical Health Care Support Workers. 

I have to be available, not only during daytime hours, but also throughout the night too, because I need to help prevent falls, or sort out the results of them if they do happen. I also have to try and prevent accidental overdosing of medication and insulin taking (when it’s already been taken), as the results of that happening are Paramedics blue-lighting it to Mum, spending almost 3 hours trying to get her blood glucose levels back up, as she borders on a diabetic coma and is even more confused and frightened than she already is by the dementia. I also have to try and ensure that Mum doesn’t hit her head on the wall, a door, etc when she gets up on average eight times every night to go to the toilet and is disoriented and stumbles, losing her balance. It’s a good job that I seem to be on ‘high alert’ all of the time and I have such good reflexes, as I’ve caught her quite a few times, as she’s fallen, thus preventing her actually making an injury worse than it has been and stopping other injuries, breaks, etc from occurring in the first place.

Neither Mum or I receive any support whatsoever from anybody. No local authority involvement. No GP involvement. No friends or family, no organisations, no dementia experts - absolutely nothing at all. 

I have my own long term mental and physical health conditions and disabilities. But so what? Like I said - Nobody cares for the lowly, forgotten, family member carer. Nobody claps for us, nobody thinks of us doing the extremely (mentally and physically) hard work that we do 24 hours a day, every single day, week after week, year after year. And it’s wrong! Very wrong. Something needs to change and it needs change quickly. 
 
Joanne Coles, Kingswood, Bristol