This Writer has been a carer for nearly 10 years now, and it doesn’t get any easier.
As a carer, the person you’re trying to help may not appreciate your attentions all the time, and is likely to get snappy very easily, prompting doubts about the value of the work.
Conversely, attempts to earn a little spare cash (we are permitted slightly more than £100 per week) may also expose one to the contempt of the cared-for, who may consider themselves to be neglected if their carer actually tries to make a buck or two to improve the quality of both people’s lives.
I certainly have experience of that! Vox Political isn’t a huge money-spinner, but it does carry a little influence these days. That means nothing when Mrs Mike decides the house needs tidying.
And sadly, most of the time, the house doesn’t.
There is no let-up. Unless you’re really lucky, the DWP questions the validity of the household benefit claims, meaning not only the sick person’s claim might be cancelled; so might the carer’s – usually on the basis of no evidence at all.
So carers tend to spend a lot of time fighting for recognition – from the government, and also from the very people they are trying to help.
It is a thankless task, but I’m not looking for sympathy.
I’d like to see carers get the recognition we deserve. It isn’t easy work, and not everybody can do it – even if you think they can.
Would it hurt so much to admit the value of it, once in a while?
Caring for loved ones is often hugely rewarding, but it can also be physically, mentally and economically challenging.
And the economic difficulties look set to get worse as over the next four years carers face an estimated £1bn reduction to financial help. Those who care for someone for 35 hours or more each week are currently eligible to a weekly carer’s allowance of £62.10.
Anonymous, 60, London: The biggest challenge carers face is the lack of support as family and friends often don’t want to know. Financially I’m lucky to have a tolerant employer for when crises strike, and couldn’t survive on the paltry carer’s allowance. The monthly carers’ group meeting is good, but this is the only support available in the evening; those of us trying to hold down jobs can’t access support resources offered during the day. Respite provision is non-existent.
Anonymous, 47, north Somerset: Carers need a break before they become broken. Carers need support before they become ill themselves. Words and promises need to be translated into action and money.
Jo Walton, 60, Leeds: The issues for unpaid carers will not improve until we ensure that the status of paid carers is improved. They need to be properly paid, properly trained and given job security and progression – then maybe they will stay and the informal carers can get some of their lives back.
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