wanting to work vs. partner's loneliness

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I've been a full time carer for my boyfriend since I moved in with him, thanks to an anasthetic that badly affected his M.E. He also has severe mental health problems which are on going.

I've been considering the prospect of returning to paid employment, probably not full time but enough to get tax credits (as we have children). This isn't a decision based on finances but instead on a desire to do something... I know being a carer is doing something, doing something very valuable, but it just feels like something's missing in my life and I think it's having an employer, having non-home related responsibilities.

But my partner cannot work and needs full time care. When I tentatively brought the subject up with him, he was so upset and explained how crushingly lonely he'd been before he met me and his fear that once I went to work he would be lonely once more. I know that staying at home all the time would severely damage his already fragile mental health, but his physical health means that he is not an independent traveller and also needs help with toileting.

We've toyed with the idea of using self-directed support to find a PA but my partner again is very nervous of this due to a terrible experience of homophobia at the hands of a PA in the past - we are both 'out' as gay men and proud of who we are but there are still huge hurdles to overcome within the paid staff of the care sector.

So I am stuck. Do I press on with finding employment and employ a PA and hope to god that my partner's loneliness is just a product of fear rather than fact? Do I abandon the thought of working and stay at his side? Or is there a middle-line, some compromise that I cannot see? (By the way, a job with less working hours wouldn't suit as we'd lose Income Support, Council Tax benefit, Free school meals, etc. but wouldn't gain either enough in wages or Tax Credits to make up the difference)
Hi John, and welcome to the Forum Image ,

More people better qualified than me will be along to say hello and give opinions.

My personal opinion is yes, go for employment if you are able. To care for someone else you also have to look after yourself. And frankly, your partner will smother you if you allow it. I would suggest contacting Carers UK Adviceline for up-to-date information on benefits and how much you can earn before those are affected. But if all OK and you can find work, it will give you an outlet and also something to talk about together.

Do you get any help at all currently? I realise many carers could be homophobic but many will not be. Have you or your partner had an assessment done by Social Services? If so, perhaps care could be provided through them - a couple of visits a day to assist with toileting.

Do you have a local branch of MIND or other mental health charity? Can they help with volunteer befriending to give your partner someone else to talk to? It might do him good too.

And finally, a curved ball - would you have a spare bedroom and consider a student lodger? Someone else in the house, not to care, but to chat and provide some company. Maybe discounted accommodation in exchange for a few hours chat a week?

Good luck whatever you decide, Anne x
Hallo John, welcome to the forum
Anne has given good advice. I work part-time and care for my hubby and I agree that if you are able to work then it is a good idea - although it is very hard work. I had to cut my hours down a few years ago and I think I will have to cut them down again fairly soon. It certainly gives you another outlook and a sort of natural respite and you do need to have a break from caring or it all gets far too much. You must make sure you look after yourself so that you can continue caring.

I think that the fear of loneliness is just that - fear. If you are not working full time then he should be able to cope without you for a few hours, especially if you follow Annes advice and get someone in. I suspect that he is more worried that if you start working then you might find someone else and leave him. Hubby is constantly worried that I will leave him Image

Good luck Image
hi welcome to forum
Hi,

definitely work. If you are happy, you will be a better carer. Not all paid carers are narrow minded, you just need to find the right one to support your partner to go out; advertise for one with the same interests as him - then they will both have fun.

Melly1
Just to think outside the box, have you considered self employment? Perhaps something that your partner could also have a part in? Something that gets you both out of the house & meeting people sometimes?

I care for my husband full time but also work officially 4 hours a week at being self employed. My husband couldn't work without my support but he needs to do it for his self esteem so offically works for 16 hours a week, self employed. This qualifies us for tax credits, gives us both a sense of worth as we are working though obviously at a limited level, we both have separate tasks though I do need to support him for many of his, we get out & about with other people & we do bring in an income though not a vast one! We aren't any better off financially than we were on income support but it is vital for my husband & self employment is the only thing that gives us total flexibility to work around his health, the family etc.

Just a thought.
I believe that we are all responsible for our own happiness. I also believe that it is wrong for one person to expect another person to entirely give up absolutely everything for them. I did this for someone long ago, in very different circumstances and now regret it bitterly. I should have been stronger and stood up for myself more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. How will you feel in 20/30/40 years time, looking back on a life which could have been so different? Is there any way you and your partner can find a compromise, so that both your lives are better? If you really want to work, then make a list of individual problems to be overcome, in priority order, and then work out possible solutions. Take as long as neccessary.
Hi, and welcome to this happy band. I'm kinda reading "control" all over your post, and that's a subject we are all familiar with and very comfortable to handle: it comes with the territory of caring, the rest is no longer that important because it is now pretty much matter of fact. Caring is part of what we are: but we all have individual rights and identity. And broadly speaking, the longer we have been carers, the more we realise that maintaining our own identity is critical to being good carers. As for PA's: I would build that awareness into the job description and interview process, there are almost as many gay care workers as there are straight ones, from my experience, some of them are great, and some of them suck: just follow your instincts and appoint the best man or woman for the job, regardless of orientation.
hi everyone,
I'm not working yet but since I've posted this I've managed to discuss things more frankly with my other half and he has moved a bit from his place of loneliness and fear, and is willing at least to investigate the whole PA/me working thing.....
I've got some health problems of my own so I've actually decided not to start job hunting seriously yet but I am keeping an eye on bulletin boards and so forth, just in case something comes up that looks good.....
Thanks for all your help.
Hi John, thanks for updating us. Sounds like you have moved forward, good that you are discussing things. I hope you can sort out your own health problems soon.

We are here if you need us.

Melly1