Carers must be respected and recognised

Carer

Writing during carers Week, ​Susan Petty, a full-time carer, says she believes the role of those caring for loved ones is undervalued despite carers saving the state billions  

8th June 2016 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

When Harry was born he was the sweetest child. Even the nurses were reluctant to hand him over. He never cried and was very placid and he had such a loveable demeanour.

But it wasn’t long before we discovered he had problems. After tests he was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy, a brain disorder which affects his muscles.

He’s now four and requires full-time care. He can’t walk and has limited movement in his arms. And as a lone parent with no family members to help me, I care on my own.

On initial diagnosis your feelings are immediately all about your child. It’s devastating and that creates its own issues. But then when you realise you can’t work again and you will be at the mercy of a system that barely provides for the weakest in society, you begin to feel the world is against you.

The first two years I struggled. I became depressed, anxious, angry. I looked to other parents and became envious of their “normal” children. At times I could only think how lucky they were and how unlucky my son and myself were.  

Susan Petty

Susan Petty

Then, through the Glasgow Carers Forum, I realised there was hundreds of other people like me, many far worse off who were struggling to cope but found encouragement by supporting each other.   

I discovered these feelings of guilt, shame and the depression were actually the norm for those facing a lifetime of care. The actual realisation of this was exhilarating: I remember feeling as if an emotional burden had been lifted.

Everyone I talked to recounted similar predicaments. I felt I was among kindred spirits who, despite facing huge challenges in their lives, found strength with each other.

Caring has become a huge issue in this country but carers fail to get the support they need. With an ageing population, the government knows it is saving billions by forcing loved ones to provide all the care.

While I believe family should provide primary support, there should be enough assistance from statutory authorities to aid that support. We don’t ask for much. But when we do ask for support we expect to be listened to and not fobbed off.

Many carers like myself have no option in life. I could put Harry into residential support. But he’s my son and I believe the best care he can get is from me. So the state wins and I save the taxpayer money. In return I don’t ask for much. But what I do need, I expect to get, such as occasional respite care. But I don’t get it and neither do thousands of others.

This is why Carers Week is so important to us. Using the hashtag #RealCarersWeek we want to expose the reality of caring for a loved one, about the difficulties faced.

Other countries value their carers more than we do because they realise the importance of the task. We want recognition and an end to the meaningless lip service from politicians. We care and we want that care valued.  

9th June 2016 by Norman Mathieson

Susan describes how it feels for all of Carers but I feel she doesn't go far enough in describing how much more difficult the caring roll is. I am now in Japan on a small island called Awaji visiting my family for the first time since my wife passed away in Oct 2015. I cared for Agnes 24/7 for close to 10 years without a holiday so I do know what it is like However what I would like to say is how impressed I am with the care in community policy that is carried out on this small island from encouraging childbirth,and through disability, mental illness and the frail and aged. If it can be done here why not in UK