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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

How having a carer can make things worse....

As most of you will know, my OH had a heart attack last summer adding to his already complex issues, and forcing me to give up work in order to care for both him & my children. This was a very difficult time for us all & on his initial discharge we received absolutely no help from anyone - we managed because the children were all off school for the summer holidays - but it was very tiring.

When the new school term begun the adult care team had finally realised that in order for us to function as near normal as possible some kind of assistance would be required & they agreed to have a carer organised to visit every weekday morning, for about 30 minutes, to help my OH wake, take his medication, wash, dress & join the rest of the world, whilst I completed the 2-hour round trip to do my youngest daughters school run. At first this seemed to help. I would arrive home at just before 10am and find him sat downstairs, with a warm drink, or at the very least, having had a wash & back on the bed maybe watching iPlayer.... Then over the next 3 months the number of different care staff we saw gradually increased, the frequency with which they turned up late (his medication was supposed to be taken between 8 & 9am which is when they were supposed to arrive) or not show up at all also began to get higher, and by the week before Christmas we found that they failed to show up more often they arrived....

What this meant was three-fold 1) Andy was regularly missing a complete set of his medication doses & having to and rearrange the rest of the days tablets to take account 2) Hospital, GP & other appointments were missed or arrived late at & 3) There was no regularity to his days - if I did not go straight home after the school run because of needing to do shopping or something, for example, then Andy might not get up till lunchtime one day, but if the carer showed up, then it might be 8am the next.

We had received a letter from the company providing the care service, asking us what we wanted to do between Christmas & New Year and this made us stop and think about the whole thing. Having sent the letter back saying that we would get by without anyone coming in at all for this period, we managed to function again without the unreliability & frustration of not knowing who & when and if anyone would actually turn up... Okay, this was another school holiday, but sitting down and talking to the children too during this time, we decided that actually there was no point actually having this service. It provided no real support to Andy, or us as a family, indeed it had actually become a bit of a noose around our necks.So we got in touch with both Adult care services & the care provider & cancelled the service.

What this decision has left is a manic morning routine, the need for me to call & check that Andy is awake whilst I am out doing the school run and generally a tiring start to the day. But we are all agreed that it was the right choice to make. It now frees up the carer for someone elderly or frail who does not have the support of a family on hand (as Andy does) whilst saving us the frustration we were experiencing before Christmas of expecting a process to be carried out & finding that it hadn't.

Once more, it proves that you can really only rely on yourself & those closest to you when push comes to shove.