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Amanda Hinchcliffe : Life as a sandwich carer

Amanda cares for her uncle, Melvin, who has lived with her family for 20 years. Amanda, who has two teenage children, is one of the UK’s 2.4 million “sandwich carers” - carers who juggle looking after an elderly, disabled or unwell adult relative alongside raising children and often while also working full or part time.


When Melvin’s mum, Amanda’s grandma, passed away it felt natural to her to step into the role of his family carer. Melvin, who is 62, has Down’s Syndrome. Four years ago Melvin suffered two small strokes and now also suffers with vascular dementia.

The deterioration in Melvin’s health since his strokes has had a major impact on his independence and the level of care he now needs. The dementia has also caused changes to Melvin’s personality and behaviour which, at times, can be very difficult to manage.

Amanda and her husband both have busy work lives. Amanda works as a community support officer for her local social services. Daily she juggles the demands of her job of 16 years with the needs of her children, who are 13 and 16, and Melvin’s care. Recently Amanda has been working double shifts to meet increased demands on the family’s finances.

Up until 18 months ago Amanda received no outside care support. As a result of Melvin’s decline in health the family have now organised a care package so that Melvin has someone to help him get up and dressed on the mornings Amanda works.

The extra help is welcome but it is still difficult to manage, Amanda says. When Melvin’s care worker is ill, for example, she has to take annual leave to cover his care. It is also very difficult for the family to get time to socialise together but Amanda is determined to do all she can to be there for Melvin.

“I want Melvin to stay at home for as long as possible. I know from my own job that people with dementia can go downhill overnight when they have to deal with sudden change. I don’t want that for Melvin. He’s my uncle and I love him to pieces.”

  • Amanda and Melvin recently featured in the Yorkshire Post newspaper, which is currently running a campaign to help young carers. Read more 
  • Read the new Carers UK Sandwich Caring Report here 

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