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"A break would be heaven": Sarifa's story for Carers Week 2021

SarifaSarifa Patel, 61, cares for her husband with angina and their son, who is 36 with complex needs, at home as well as taking care of her elderly mum and neighbours. She lost her father to Covid last year.

“Caring during the Covid pandemic has definitely affected my physical and mental health. During the winter months, my husband would often stay with family in India, and that would give me a break; some respite. But now that it’s not possible to travel and the variants are a worry so I don’t get that support at the moment. We’ve had to remain at home as our son is clinically vulnerable and I can’t have anyone come into the house to help care. And his autism means he’s not very good with social distancing or being outside on his own. He needs someone to constantly take care of him and keep an eye on him so he’s safe. Our other children have their own responsibilities and can’t come to visit like they used to and give me a break or be able to stay with them.

“I tried to look after my parents too with their needs during last year. But they had Covid so couldn’t help. Just too risky with our son. We lost my Dad and couldn’t go to the funeral. Now it’s my five sisters who help with mum so I can concentrate on looking after my husband and son which takes up all my time. I also volunteer to support others with disabilities and carers on the Disability Rep Forum, which is all online now, and keep an eye on an elderly neighbour.

“It’s a constant battle to get the right funding and support for our health needs. Carer's Allowance just isn’t enough and they just don’t understand carers and all our health needs.

“Having a care service to give me daytime breaks would be amazing. Just knowing my son and husband are safe and looked after and I can relax – it would be heaven! And finding someone we trust who could safely take our son out to the football matches he loves to watch would make such a difference. He’s hated being cooped up at home – lockdowns and not going out have really impacted on his behaviour and mental state. I wouldn’t want to leave them overnight but just knowing they’re safe with people I can trust in the day would really help with my mental health.”

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