I’ve needed care for 12 years now and know first hand both the unbelievable work, and extreme demand, carers cope with on a daily basis. Carers Week is an annual campaign which highlights the challenges faced by unpaid carers and celebrates their invaluable support and the difference they make to families throughout the UK.
My Care Story
When I became ill at the age of 14, my round-the-clock care need was almost instant. For many years my family and I struggled on, sharing the role between my sister (who was then at school) and my parents (who were also working). It wasn’t until I was around 16 when I accepted that I needed to get agency carers in; not just for my care need but also for my family.
Normally, I have a whole team of carers. I have two main agency carers who come in during the day and my family still take it in turns to do evening and night-time shifts. I also have a fabulous assistance dog, Spencer, who helps me with day to day activities and has really improved my independence. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak and my high risk ‘status’, we’ve had to stop my agency carers and my parents, like many families at the moment, are struggling with taking on a major increased role of my care.
I know a lot of people are nervous about getting agency carers so I wanted to share my experience. I was assigned an agency (this is based on where you live) and I then had a chat with their team to discuss what kind of person I would get on with. Direct payments, of course, would allow you to be more selective over your carer but this option didn’t work for me. The agency didn’t get it right first time, so don’t be afraid to say when partnerships don’t work. I met with a new carer and can definitely say I now have someone who I’d class as one of my best friends caring for me and we’ve shared some fantastic memories together!
My Daily Needs
If I were to list all the tasks my carers helps me with, we’d be here for a long time! Most importantly, they keep me safe and enable me to be as independent as possible. Physically, they help with things like getting washed, dressed, medication, fetching things and driving my car. Emotionally, they help when I’m down, feeling anxious or have panic attacks. And socially, they help me get out in the community. From waking up at 3am to relocate a joint or give me medication to stop an allergic reaction, to assisting me on modelling jobs – it really is a job where two days are never the same!
A Thank You
I want to end this blog with a thank you to all the carers out there. You’re doing a tremendous job and our thoughts are especially with those who are taking on extra care roles during the pandemic.