Emma is a member of the carers group and a manager at the service. It wasn’t until she went to a carers sessions that she really knew what a carer was – she had never spoken to her team about their caring responsibilities.
Carers often don’t recognise themselves as carers, even though they spend a large amount of their time caring for someone. They often feel guilty about asking for help for themselves or they don’t want to talk about it. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t members in teams that wouldn’t benefit from conversation.
Lynne cares for her husband Mark who has a brain tumour and is undergoing some radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This can sometimes affect her work conditions. Lynne works part-time and has flexible working arrangements. This enables her to balance work and her caring responsibilities well. Friends and family take Mark to his routine appointments and Lynne attends the results appointments with him – she gives her manager plenty of notice for these and works around her team. There have been times where Lynne has been called away at short notice to attend to Mark, for example when he suffered a stroke and needed to have a few days off to be with him.
Elizabeth cares for her husband Bob who has had Parkinson’s for 20 years. This means that Liz can be very tired at times and plans can be changed at very short notice – all these things that Liz has to deal with but carry on as though it’s another normal day. She needs to learn to distinguish between emergency and routine, and recognise the fact that others are in need of support as well. She tries to be sympathetic to others around her too.
Scott cares for his daughter Amber who has a genetic condition called Cystic Fibrosis. Amber’s condition is unpredictable – she has bouts of good and bad health – and sometimes Scott is called away unexpectedly. Scott, however, manages to plan his work in such a way that he can give his best at home and also at work. Tanya and her husband care for her mum, Tes, who suffers from Dementia. Work enables Tanya to be a carer. It allows her to come to work but also be the daughter she wants to be at home. It’s important to her that she has flexibility – which she gets – and it’s also important that she can come to work, is able to achieve what she wants, and do everything that she wants to do. She can have that balance between doing well at home and at work.
Sally cares for her mum who’s in her early 90’s. She has a few health conditions including Ischemic heart disease and short term memory problems. For Sally, she’s on constant alert for the phone call, as inevitably, when you’re caring for someone who’s elderly, the next incident will happen at some point. An example of this was just over a year ago when her mum was rushed to hospital with acute pancreatitis – it was really serious and Sally had to drop everything. She had to sleep on the hospital chair for five nights while her mum luckily pulled through. So for Sally, being told by her boss that it’s okay to be where she needs to be, not to worry about work, and that she has everybody’s support – it’s something you can’t put a price on. It meant everything to her in that situation and it’s so important that carers do understand that we have the flexibility as an organisation, and when something like that happens, we’re able to deal with it.