The first lesson from my life as a carer? There is such a thing as society | Anna Cosslett | Opinion | The Guardian


It’s leaflets at the moment. If my son sees any, in a cafe for instance, he wants them all. Later he will want to go through them and then destroy each one, tearing them into tiny pieces. We’ve got him down to a maximum of three. This is progress. When he lived at home, it was books – each one to be looked through swiftly, then reshelved on the other side of the room. If we went outside, every item on display in the two village shops had to be named three times. I stopped going outside. I stopped trying to speak to anyone on the phone, because my son knew that if he stood next to me and shrieked like an agonised seagull no one could hear a thing.

I have spent a large part of my life as a carer for my son, whom I shall call Huw (he is now a vulnerable adult) who has severe autism and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I was helped for part of that time by my daughter, Rhiannon. There are around 7 million carers in the UK – that’s one in 10 people – and that doesn’t include parents whose children aren’t sick or disabled. So many carers’ stories go untold. Why? Probably because it’s exhausting, especially if lack of sleep is part of the picture (typical in cases of autism). It may be because unaffected people feel uncomfortable thinking about it, but it’s possible that they just don’t think about it, full stop – because our stories aren’t out there. And yet it’s possible we will all be carers at some point.

Many people will find, at some stage in their life, that they will need to assume responsibility for someone who cannot care for themselves. Caring is a vital part of our society, and for most people it cannot be outsourced to an expensive nursing home or private staff.

Yet caring remains undervalued. A catchphrase from the Thatcher era, seeking to justify the destruction of many social support systems, was that “spoon-feeding only teaches the shape of the spoon”. This ignores the fact that people from babyhood to frail old age often do actually need to be spoon-fed. By insisting that society did not exist, the Tories set in motion a pretence that such needs do not exist, and the people who cater for them were not worthy of recognition, beyond some vague adulation of “family values”.

Caring can either break you or make you a stronger, wiser person. Many people, most of them women, can be broken by the burdens they have had to take on, now that society has largely turned its back on their needs as support systems for sick and disabled people and their families have been further dismantled.

 

Source: The first lesson from my life as a carer? There is such a thing as society | Anna Cosslett | Opinion | The Guardian

One thought on “The first lesson from my life as a carer? There is such a thing as society | Anna Cosslett | Opinion | The Guardian

  1. Caring after your family member, each carer will have their own stories and they will be different, but in many respects there will be simularities. Many carers will not have the opportunities to disclose how their lives have been for a number of reasons.

    Mainly because they do not trust Social Service as they fear that if they can not cope their relative will be taken away from them. It is not only fear, but guilt that they are not coping and have to bring in others which they feel they should be doing for their own relative.

    This Government and many before them have not provided sufficient funding for Social Care to fund care to the required quality and quantity.

    The rate of pay for carers is abysmal and does not encourage sufficient people with a caring outlook to enter the caring profession, which means all carie providers have insuffient staff to provide the required care and quality care that is required.

    With immediate effect this Government needs to reverse their policy of austerity. If this is not done the care system, which is ‘hanging by a thread’, will no longer be there because the thread will be broken and then who will care.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.