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Carer Profile 15

What Derbyshire Carers Association did for me
My mum passed away six months ago now but I had looked after her, with the help of my brother, for over five years prior to that. Firstly we looked after mum in her own home after she suffered a painful injury in her back in 2006 and she was never the same after that. She was 88 at the time.

Mum became very dependent on us, the family, for daily support and we lived with her for half the week for around ten months at that time as she could not move about easily and could do little for herself. We both found it difficult to stay away from our own homes but mum had got used to someone living with her, not wanting it to end, and she would not consider any kind of rehabilitation or respite away from home whilst her back condition was so debilitating.

I had reduced my working week by half and never went back to work full-time on account of looking after mum. I did not begrudge her of this, I knew she would have done the same for me at any time in her younger years if she had found herself the same position if her family needed help. It was the love and respect for mum that kept me going, with the support of my husband for what I was doing for mum at the time. I could not have asked more of him. She had been a wonderful mum herself over the years and deserved our loyalty at such a difficult time for her.

I did, however, feel that the responsibility for looking after mum was not shared fairly. I have little detrimental to say about my brother because we worked together all the following years to support mum fully and my brother also has a very difficult time at home and has little peace in his life, so it was all difficult for him.

Mum was also suffering from moderate dementia, which was accelerating, and had become a different person and difficult to please at times.

I have three young grand children and it was very hard to spend any quality time with them as I was basically running two homes and everything concerned with that.
It was my sister who let us all down in reality. She helped at first but after around four months (during 2006) decided she could not carry on and my brother and I had to pick up her share and sort it out between us, adding to our own responsibilities. I know most families have a similar story they could tell.
I was having all sorts of negative feelings and thought I needed to speak to someone.

I contacted the one of the Carer Support Workers at Derbyshire Carers Association around that time. I did not know what I expected she could do for me, but being in favour of Support Groups generally I thought I would see if a talk to her could help. She was used to all this sort of thing and often just a chat can help enormously.

I felt it was hard to take everything on board when there could have been a fairer way in the family of doing things for the benefit of mum, and us all. It wasn’t so much financial loss or the impact on my own home life that was the problem, but the lack of consideration from other family members which made the situation worse. It cost nothing to show concern and pitch in to help with a willing heart.

It actually helped me a great deal, even at the first meeting, to chat to the Derbyshire Carers Association Carer Support Worker on a professional level. She could not wave a magic wand over difficulties I was experienced – I appreciated that, but it was her genuine concern and support that seemed a bit like a turning point for me at the time, and it left me feeling able to accept more what was happening and that I was not on my own in what I was experiencing.

It was also the knowledge that if we needed any advocacy help in the future, that Derbyshire Carers Association would be willing to put forward our case for us, whatever it might entail.

I know and have met all of the Carer Support Workers at the Derbyshire Carers Association Carers Centre now. The Carers Drop-In Centre is also running smoothly on West Bars in Chesterfield and must be a lifeline for so many other Carers.

It has been very difficult when a situation involves all the family members to try and reach a workable compromise, but when someone just does not want to help, or thinks they are doing enough already, it’s often easier to let sleeping dogs lie rather than cause what might be a major family argument, what far-reaching repercussions.

I was very grateful for a listening ear and professional approach to my difficulties at the time. To be honest, it was worth its weight in gold just to know someone was on the end of the phone if I needed them – that’s all it takes sometimes.

What impact it made on my life
I know that if I need professional help in the future, that Derbyshire Carers Association will be there. Mum has left us now, but mum-in-laws is in her 80’s and starting to deteriorate in a similar way to mum with memory loss and the onset of what we are told is Alzheimer’s. Social Services have been involved and a plan has been decided on for the future.

Derbyshire Carers Association have a wealth of different contact and supportive advice they are willing to share at any time, together with back-up support if we should need it in the future. Mum-in-law needs to have an Emergency Care plan drawn up as she lives alone and I will approach Derbyshire Carers Association to help us with this.

I have also recommend Derbyshire Carers Association to other people who are finding it difficult to look after someone. They often do not know Derbyshire Carers Association even exists. It only takes a phone call to realise that help is at hand- also the knowledge that there are so many people worse off than yourself. It’s really good to have a safety net like this when you need it the most.

Thank you to Derbyshire Carers Association for the support I received during the years we looked after mum – even in the simplest way- at a time when I was finding it difficult to find the best way around things for all concerned.