What does it mean to be an unpaid carer?
The NHS commissioning website states -
A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.
I am one of those textbook carers, I see myself as ‘just’ a mam. When I attend meetings, coffee group’s and such and everyone introduce’s themselves I refer to myself as ‘just’ a mam, Delilah’s mam to be precise.
I am well aware of the fight to get the status of an unpaid carer seen, to make sure we are visible to those who think we are ‘just’ being a parent to our children. I don’t belittle the status of being a carer, I just don’t see myself in that way at all times. There is no other reason than this, I believe …
I was a mam for 7 years before I became a carer, before I was Delilahs mam I was a mam to L and L. So to me this was supposed to be ‘just’ like that… ‘just’ a mam again. So, to change my mindset from mam to carer is difficult to do because at the end of the day, I am still mam.
When Delilah shouts for snacks she shouts mam, when she is in pain she shouts mam, when she is mid meltdown and wants to tell someone she hates them she shouts mam - luckily I am not easily offended or upset anymore.
To be referred to as a carer often takes me by surprise, I forget all the time as I just ‘crack on’ with it all. Thats what we all do though isn’t it? We put our head’s down and get on with it all, we take what wins we can get and be grateful for them. There is a misconception that carers are in some way, shape or form ‘lucky’. We get ‘free’ cars… the car we got because our daughter came with lot’s of added extras. We get half priced tickets… not taking into consideration that our children are vulnerable and often don’t last the time there, so when we leave quickly we haven’t wasted as much money. We get support at the drop of a hat, “you must have someone who can help with that” they say… nope… help tends to come after the breakdown. You must get plenty in benefits… ha! For a measly £62 a week in carers allowance I do the job of many…
I am a cook, of sometimes two meals at a time as she doesn’t like it all of a sudden but must eat.
A dietician as I have to be sure her food is nutritious without dairy.
A pharmacist when arranging, collecting and providing medications.
I am a psychologist on those rare evenings when Delilah wants to speak about her feelings, the fact that she doesn’t consider herself ‘normal’ as her legs ‘don’t work’.
I am a chauffeur on the occasions she wants to go out.
I am a scribe, as she can’t write.
I am a narrator as she can’t read.
I am the peace keeper between her and anyone in her eyeline on meltdown occasions.
I am the lift, as the hoist can scare her.
I am the doctor when she’s unwell.
I am the ENT specialist when she has sty’s from her skin, and can’t hear because her ears have closed up again also because of her skin.
I am the person who bathes her, changes her nappy still, as she wants privacy now and only mam will do.
I am her personal shopper.
I am the one that sits with her as she goes to sleep as she can’t do it alone.
I am the red crisp giver and the iPad charger and the techy when something goes wrong.
I am mam. I am her carer and I do it all, not for £62 but because I HAVE to. If I didn’t, who would?
That is just my role when it comes to Delilah, the impact of being a carer has
taken over my life, the life I had. My children now see me as Delilahs carer first then their mam afterwards... that alone is heartbreaking. I tried my best and they didn't miss out too much but they did miss out. My husband doesn't get to spend time with me switched off as I am either running about after D or thinking about her. Caring doesn't stop because she's out of ear shot or eye sight... so why on earth does it stop for us, as carers?
We are still here, still cracking on. Tracey x