I never thought I’d be a carer yet; my parents are only in their 60’s! They’ve always provided me with support around the house! This is new territory…
In April 2020 I became a carer for my dad along with my mum and my son. Having spent several months in hospital, dad was finally coming home. Tetraplegic and reliant on others for almost everything, it was time to become a carer. I served in the Royal Navy until 2013 and ‘transferable skills’ often talked about during resettlement came to the forefront! I discussed with mum and my son about playing to our strengths and being responsible for different areas of dads care so no one person should feel overwhelmed and to minimise the potential for forgetting anything!!
For me, it was all about the admin. Paperwork, medication, appointments, equipment. Over the 6 weeks dads been home, I’ve put together inventory lists to check each week to ensure all the equipment needed by professional care providers is always readily available. A check list of weekly and monthly tasks ensures I don’t forget something important like the different wheelchair checks or charging up his comfy chair.
Caring for someone doesn’t only mean sitting with them, keeping them company and cooking dinner. There can often be a lot more behind the scenes that often our family and friends don’t see.
I have family and friends who often ask, “how’s dad today”. A small number of friends don’t ask after him though (not at first anyway). I’m lucky, they ask “how are you doing today?”. That is the most moving question often forgotten and I didn’t realise how important this question was until 6 weeks ago.
Becoming a carer during lockdown didn’t prove any more difficult as I had nothing to compare it to and I did not really know anything about the support networks available. I also thought, if there were any, they would be closed for the time being. I was wrong. Dads professional care team registered us with Improving Lives Plymouth Caring for Carers team. I received a call from them and they briefly explained what they can offer.
I’m yet to have my ‘joining chat’ but it’s in the diary and we are looking forward to our first Caring for Carers event this week, albeit a virtual one. But hey, it involves Cream tea so what’s not to love!!
What have I learnt in the 6 short and busy weeks of life as a carer? Take some time out, even if it means switching the phone to silent for an hour or ignoring the phone when you need to. Important callers will leave a message or call back. Friends and family should understand that you can’t always have a lengthy chat. Look around for support networks and see what works. Reach out when you need it and recognise the signs in yourself that support is needed before it’s needed. Work to your strengths and don’t try to do everything.
I feel lucky to work for a firm who appreciate the crucial role that carers have in our community. Throughout the week of 22 June to 26 June, Wolferstans are offering service users of Improving Lives Plymouth and their carers a half price discount on fees for preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).
To make an appointment with one of the team, or for any further advice, call our new client co-ordinators on 01752 292371.
You can also find information on services available for carers and support networks by contacting Improving Lives Plymouth on 01752 201890.