I hope you’ve all had a fabulous week?…
In today’s blog I want to explore with you all what it’s like becoming a carer especially if your loved one’s just been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The diagnosis can be shattering but with lots of smiles, a succinct support network, and sheer tenacity anything is possible. I must stress I’ve never been a carer before but I have been able to witness the other side of the spectrum, because for the past 22 years since my diagnosis my family have prioritised everything to make sure I live my life to full capacity and that I wake up everyday smiling.
Carers… A few facts & figures
- Around 6.5 million of us will become carers. If you’re no good at maths like me this is 1 in 8 people to be exact.
- 6,000 people everyday take on the monumental task of caring for somebody with a serious illness, this equates to 2 million people every year. 58% of carers are female and 42% are male.
- 625,000 people develop serious mental or physical health issues as a direct result of providing 24/7 care.
- 3 million people face the incredible challenge of sustain their full or part-time positions within their current employment.
- What I find disgusting is 1 in 5 people have no choice but to give up their careers altogether. Our loved ones may be seriously ill but what professionals need to realise is we all need to keep warm, food needs to be in our bellies, clothes need to remain on our backs, a safe and secure place to sleep at night and income needs to keep coming in. We all need to be united together not watching our livelihood’s and everything we work for go down the drain.
- Right now there are 700,00 young carers in the UK. 68% of these are disgracefully bullied.
- 1 in 20 young carers miss out in full-time education due to the nature of their caring role.
The Carer’s Allowance is the main source of income carer’s are expected to live on but at the same time carry out 50 hours of care a week. At the moment this comes to £62.10 which is supposed to allocate 35 hours of support each week. This figure comes out at £1.77 an hour which is less than the national minimum working wage of £6.70.
My Top Tips
I’ve had carers come and go but I guess that’s the way all cookies crumble. When you hire a care agency write everything down so they all know what’s expected and that there’s no room for error so consistency can remain in place for the person required and everyone else involved.
Adapting your whole life when a relative requires constant care can be draining. Allow for plenty of time to recharge batteries because as I’ve said previously we don’t have ‘Superhero’ written all over our faces. You’ll be surprised how a quick catch up with a friend followed by cake and coffee can make a huge difference.
When large meetings arise with professionals regardless if you have just recently received support. The trick is to lay all your cards on the table, stand up, be succinct and get straight to the point because these ‘professionals’ seem to think they can map your life out for you but this doesn’t have to be the case. It’s your life, your voice, your choices so please don’t be afraid to put your foot down wherever necessary.
What really angers me is little kids and teenagers are supposed to know each medication inside out when their relative has over 20 boxes of drugs to take. For some kids this may be normality but children of today should not be acting like nurses. There are too many medication side effects to mention. This task is huge and it can all go horribly wrong. Kids need a proper childhood.
Breaking bad news to younger siblings is never easy to do. Obviously they will ask questions and become emotional. Break it down into bite-sized pieces. If you are too technical they won’t understand the illness properly. Dependant on their age ranges distribute appropriate tasks, by taking this approach they won’t have the slightest clue their sibling is any different. Therefore family life can remain as harmonious as possible.
Sometimes, the emotional rollercoaster of having carers enter your home or taking on somebody else’s care can become too much.
To make sure everybody does their bit devise a rota so family can undertake equal responsibilities. Depending on the condition, teamwork is essential. I understand this isn’t always possible because personal circumstances change all the time but the more help received you’ll be surprised at the change in everybody’s attitude and mentality.
If an elderly relative requires care depending on their mental capacity try to keep everyday as normal as possible.
To maintain independence keep them involved in everyday tasks.
For example carrying out the weekly food shop. Choice is absolutely critical in this case because everybody likes their favourite food or they may still choose to buy certain branded products. If the person has Alzheimer’s or Dementia old photographs from their childhood or listening to music of their preference are fantastic activities because it’s amazing how much they can still remember.
I am so proud of Oritse Williams from boyband JLS for speaking about his own experiences when he became a young carer a1 the age of 12. His mum Sonia has Multiple Sclerosis. He also managed to speak to other young people about their own experiences when he made a Channel 4 documentary named ‘Britain’s Youngest Carer’s’ back in 2009. Despite his past he never gave on his passion for music. Not only did he become a member of one of the world’s biggest boyband but creating a better life for the whole family has now finally become reality.
Head back, shoulders and chest out loud and proud.