This week is national carers week and we’ve been asking people what small change would make the biggest difference to their lives as carers? Here’s what Pat Onions, carer for her husband David, said.
The situation David and I find ourselves in is not unique but is pretty rare. I am his full time carer, nothing unusual, but I am registered blind. He broke his back whilst serving in the Royal Navy and suffers chronic pain, reactive depression and severe restrictions with mobility. It’s the blind leading the lame.
Over many, many years I have attended an equal amount of government cross party groups, local authority meetings, conferences, interviews and committees about being a carer or disabled person. I always go with hope in my heart that this one will be different and always take the same message, ask us what we want and listen.
Do these experts take any notice? No. I get told of strategies, policies, new funding and lack of funding. I have sat in on implementation boards regarding ‘health checks’ for carers (I wonder where that little gem disappeared to) and have been involved with research for my particular hereditary eye condition.
The two hats merged into one long ago. I always hoped that one day those of us who cared for loved ones would be listened to and taken notice of.
As David is the one who gets minimal home care, begrudgingly from social workers, I asked him what small thing would make a big difference. Do you know what his first thought was? Help for me. Even in his fuzzy muddled world of pain and drugs he still hoped help for me would mean less work for me. Obviously we would love more, but the answer to that request is an emphatic, “No.”
After showering, if the girls could just clear up the wet towels, and tidy the bathroom it would make a difference. Or, when he has been scrubbed, dressed and his broken body put back together, they would say, “you sit down and I will make you a cup of tea,” it would help. The simple things that give me a few minutes, the simple things that make him feel human and not a commodity.
That, and that alone, is our one small thing that could make a big difference.
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