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Carers I interview - Carers UK Forum

Carers I interview

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
112 posts
I get out and about working whenever I can, in my p/t job as a social policy researcher: and its always a pleasure to meet other carers who seem to be in control of their lives. Today I met an energetic, bright-eyed and very busy lady in her early sixties, who is earning an absolutely brilliant salary as a sales executive and who flies off all around the UK most weeks. Yet her husband has suffered from early onset dementia for at least seven or eight years and is completely dependent. By now most people her age have thrown in the cards, taken their pension and quit employment. But her period home is large and tastefully decorated in contemporary style with solid wood floors and stylish modern furniture, bright with sunshine and full of family photos. So - intrigued - I asked her how she managed to juggle her work with caring:

She said: " I get back-up from a charity who provide me with 15 hours a week support, paid for by direct payments. That isn't enough of course, so I also employ a care worker privately. My daughter - who also has a job, is seperated from her partner and has moved in, and she gives me a lot of help too especially when I am staying away for work reasons. I don't go on holiday, and I don't use overnight respite, my husband is too young and would not want to be in with older folks".

During the course of our conversation, she also juggled a couple of phone calls and managed to pack her grandson and his dad off to the park to play - superb multitasking... and she also even offered me a cup of tea.
I'm in total awe, if there is such a thing as a "Super-Carer" I think I just met her!

Can work be combined with caring? I think the answer is an emphatic yes, but it helps a lot if you have a family who back you up, can command a decent salary, enjoy decent health and have marketable skills. No two carers are alike, but we are all carers. Benefits arent, and probably will never be, the answer to all our prayers.
Can work be combined with caring? I don't believe there is a definitive answer to this although I guess you would disagree with me.

As you say, no two carers are alike and some of us do not have family back up, do not have good health and have practically no access to outside services. I commend this super carer for all that she manages to do (I'm assuming that she perfected her obviously sought after marketable skills before her husband became ill) but I can't and I would hazard a guess that few could.

I feel there is far too much tendency to assume that those who are on benefits could somehow do better and are not making the effort to try and find a way to work. We are on benefits now but I certainly don't consider it an answer to my prayers..are there people who really consider it to be some sort of windfall?

I worked while my children were young, when they grew into teenagers and so did my husband. Two jobs each actually. I miss the mental stimulation and find the situation we now find ourselves in with our daughter soul destroying. To think that someone would assume that I would choose this life for financial reasons is beyond belief.

I genuinely admire those that manage to continue working, I honestly do. But what I won't do is to feel that I somehow fail because I cannot juggle my life in order to work. I don't know what lies ahead but I do the best that I can for now and that is all that should matter.

Just my personal opinion.

I worked up til 3 years ago. I worked in research too only I was a manager in charge of 50 staff. I was also a single parent of two children, neither of whose fathers paid any maintenance for either child. I also had three elderly people to care for. I did all my own renovations at my house. I did not have any respite. I did not get any help from any family members or anyone else.

I had various other situations going on which I will not go into. Still no help, no respite no breaks so I got ill and landed in hospital. Had to lie to the hospital and say I was fine because I knew no-one would take on my role. Even then still no help, respite or break. Caree got ill, I kept saying he was not fit to go home but home they sent him and back he went a few weeks later. This happened about 5 times til finally they got what was wrong and sorted it. By this time I was a nervous wreck and got signed off work. Given my previous illness and the likelihood of it happening again I decided it is not worth my health to juggle all these balls in the air.

However I do think that carers are worth more than the measley £53 per week. It is the lowest benefit but we have to work 35 hours per week for it. Do you not think that I would love to be working about 35 -40 hours a week and earning £ megabucks rather than being stuck here in this mind numbing situation getting £53 per week for 60 -70 hours per week plus the other 100 hours a week on standby. Perhaps if I had had help throughout the 18 years of caring the situation would be different but there was no help. Given that I had already had an illness do you really think my children are just deperate to start caring for their elderly for a pittance of £53 per week. No, my kids are not going to be carers, I would not want that and they would not do it. So what is the Government going to do when my age group are needing carers, having seen the results of caring my kids and probably a whole army of their age groups will not care. Far too much short sightedness going on.

It may, of course, be different in the cases of children born with disabilities and those whose partners become ill or disabled. My experiences are only of caring for elderly.

Little Lamb
Excalibur said:
Can work be combined with caring?
Well yes for some carers, no for others...end of discussion Image

Personally having combined work and caring at times during my last twenty odd years of being a carer i would ask the question: Can caring be combined with work and having a bit of time for yourself just to do something for you.

Last friday morning, having got up for my husband 4 times during the night i 'started' my day at 7.30 am. I have four hours respite most friday mornings and it takes me about 2 hours to sort myself, my husband and the house out before the carer arrives. Having shut the spare bedroom door on the stuff i had quickly tidied out of sight, and having left my clean, fed husband with the carer, a selection of music to play and a plentious supply of biscuits and coffee, I drove myself and my mobile phone seven miles into the countryside where i caught and tacked up one of the horses i look after. I rode her out onto some bridle paths where we cantered and jogged along for over an hour.

When i got home i was relaxed and happy and generally a pleasure to be around Image

Now when i was working and caring i know i was quite often distracted, thinking about work i needed to do or even, though i hate to admit it a bit crabby sometimes because i felt stressed.

Now admittedly i do not live in a large period house
tastefully decorated in contemporary style with solid wood floors and stylish modern furniture, bright with sunshine and full of family photos.
For a start i am the sort of operson who never gets around to putting photos in frames lol, they are all stashed in boxes upstairs somewhere. In fact i live in a small terraced house with cat scratched furniture, i like to think of it as shabby chic Image But material lifestyle isnt everything though a certain amount of comfort admittedly helps!

Anyways my question wouldnt be is it possible to combine caring and work but : is it possible to combine caring with 'shallow self indulgence?'

The answer of course is sometimes it is and sometimes it isnt. But if you can...go for it Image You can always alleviate your protestant work ethic guilt by telling yourself it makes you a more relaxed and therefore better one could even say 'super' carer Image
15 hours a week direct payments!!
I think the moral of this story is everyone up sticks and move to Scotland Image
Hi Vicky

Just before you pack the removal van can I let you know that I am in Scotland. I didnt get any help for the first 15 years of caring, then got a bit of help for a couple of months in 2008 and it is only now after I have had a very serious illness that I get any reasonable help which amounts to about 10 hours per week. The grass is not all that green up here.

Little Lamb
Amongst friends here i can admit the sad sad albeit shocking truth. My home is Not fashionably furnished.
So that's two of us ..anyone else care to come out of their unfashionable closets lol.
Its not surprising i chose to take early retirement to care for my husband. I simply didnt have the imagination to find a way to put myself first. Image
Ouch lol.

Thanks Audrey..she writes grinning at the computer...you made me laugh Image
Im totally shocked, women in their 60s with tastefully furnished homes, how do they do it.
What a pity Ive spent the day recovering a seat on a Lloyd Loom linen basket with red velvet and leopard print rose trim. Smacked wrist for me, must redo it in beige immediately Image
I have asked many times re direct payments / individual budgets and have gone through the MEANS TESTED financal assessment, and have been informed time after time my / our earnings are to high for extra financial support ,,,my income at the time was just over £9-000 per year incl the carers allowance ... it has since doubled thanks to another private pension ... how can some rather "rich " people get financial help....when her husband enters social care will she sell her rather nice home for his care ... or will she have the cash to hand ...
For the time being im working/caring...only 20 hours a week ...BUT and it is a big one, i have imput form local authority, and i also have relatives who help out ...and if it wasn't for my rellies and help from services, i dont think, well i could not manage, its review time for my gal, i am trying to cover all bases, i have had a chat to my manager and if they cut services i will reduce my hours again......and again financially out of pocket, i am looking for another job... nights maybe...well who needs sleep Image.............its a mess, if the gov wants carers to work, put the services in for our carees, well the cheaper option by far is the pittance you are given.....carers allowance, i dont think many people will work over 35 hours a week for 50 odd quid Image , i am not entitled as i earn over the threshold, i am a little stressed and fragile at the mo, untill i know whats happening Image then start again.........
112 posts