Carers, where would we be with out them?

I was invited to a business lunch last week by an organisation, and was asked if I would like to bring my wife, as they also wanted to discuss things from a carer perspective. This prompted me to write this post, as I had realised that I hadn’t really dedicated a post to the important part that my wife and family, continue to play in my life.

My wife never looks on herself as my carer, and that seems to be true with most people I have met. Also, in my mind, I try not to admit, that I need caring for! Although, I don’t even know which pills I should be taking on what days, so it seems I do.She is always there for my constant moaning and groaning, and I’m sure that is not in the job description.I know that without her support, it would have been impossible for me to do the things that I am able to do.

Carers also need support, of course, but one of the problems that I have encountered is for someone who is performing the role of a carer, to actually understand that they are. I feel that there is an issue with the word, but I know there has been a lot of work done, to find a better one, but thus far, without success.

A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems.
Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age.

Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation; looking after their mother, son, or best friend and just getting on with it.
Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens and they have to get on with it; if they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for?

Carers are the largest source of care and support in each area of the UK. It is in everyone’s interest that they are supported.

  • Taking on a caring role can mean facing a life of poverty, isolation, frustration, ill health and depression.
  • Many carers give up an income, future employment prospects and pension rights to become a carer.
  • Many carers also work outside the home and are trying to juggle jobs with their responsibilities as carers.
  • The majority of carers struggle alone and do not know that help is available to them.
  • Carers say that access to information, financial support and breaks in caring are vital in helping them manage the impact of caring on their lives.

Carers experience many different caring situations. A carer could be someone looking after a new baby with a disability or caring for an elderly parent, someone supporting a partner with a substance misuse or mental health problem. Despite these differing caring roles, all carers share some basic needs. All carers also need services to be able to recognise the individual and changing needs throughout their caring journey.

Carers often suffer ill-health due to their caring role. To care safely and maintain their own physical and mental health and well-being, carers need information, support, respect and recognition from the professionals with whom they are in contact. Improved support for the person being cared for can make the carer’s role more manageable.

Carers need support to be able to juggle their work and caring roles or to return to work if they have lost employment due to caring.
Post-caring, carers may need support to rebuild a life of their own and reconnect with education, work or a social life.
With an ageing population, the UK will need more care from families and friends in the future. This is an issue that will touch everyone’s life at some point. Carer support concerns everyone.

To help people understand the definition and needs of a carer I have used some of the above from the Carers Trust website, as it quite clearly explains the things that I am talking about. I see many frail and vulnerable people, who don’t have anyone to help them through their treatment.I don’t know how I would have coped on my own.

There are many different resources out there now, from organisations, booklets, posters and of course the internet, but nothing can replace, being able to rely on the support of a loved one. If you are lucky enough to have that, you must  be aware that that person  will also need support at times, be it practical, emotional or psychological. Thank you to all of you unsung heroes out there, although I am sure you won’t see yourselves as that!

Do you consider yourself to be a carer? Where would you be without your carer? Please feel free to leave a comment.

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  1. Thank you Chris for such an empathetic and well written post. I am a carer for my daughter who has osteosarcoma (bone cancer), so totally relate to everything you have said and have found comfort in knowing my feelings are “normal” (not that there is anything normal about cancer and the impact it has on the person with it and those around them!)
    I blog about our cancer journey and find it so therapeutic, I will be following yours going forward. Keep up the great work. Jo

  2. Hi Jo
    I have just finished reading some of your blog.You are definitely one of those people, for whom I wrote the above post. As you will certainly know by now, there are very many of you, and I wanted to write specifically about you guys.We couldn’t do it without you!!

    The effects of a cancer diagnosis on others is extremely understated, and there is very little official support to be found.Generally people just ‘get on with it’ because that’s what we do. I wanted to say ‘thank you’ and ensure that people thought about their roles and what support they might require.

    Like you, I do find writing therapeutic, and I wanted to be open about all aspects of my experience, to show people that they are not the only ones feeling as they do.Fear can be very destructive.

    I wish you and your family well and thank you for your comments, they are much appreciated.I look forward to welcoming you back to the blog

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