It is National Carers week next week (12th June).
The idea behind ‘Carers week’ is to highlight the work Carers do all year round, day in and day out.
It is a week where Carers are celebrated . A week where Carers are the centre of attention. There are events up and down this little island of ours designed to give the Carer a little treat, a much needed pampering session or to have a meal out. Simple things many people do weekly, monthly or regularly enough.
If you can get the break to attend these events; I hear they are mighty craic .
This year will be my second year attending the opening ceremony in Dublin. I will sit in a room listening to other Carers talking and listening to how those (mainly charities) are trying hard to support all Carers , not just the ones who can attend their events.
I attended the first opening ceremony two years ago because I wrote a piece entitled ‘A Day in the life of a Carer; I was invited up to speak to a few journalists and such in the hopes of letting our government know that Carers need more support, more help and more breaks. In order for me to be able to attend this; I had to leave as soon as it was over and be back down to Galway in the hopes that my parents-in-law , were managing Ethan ok and that they were still standing.
This year I was invited up to accompany my middle son J, who been named as ‘Young Carer Of The Year’ ; which is something we are all proud of him for but, but there is a little underlying twinge – I wish my son had no idea of this world of ‘Caring’.
In order for us to attend this I had to ask for respite for Ethan so we could make a special day out of it for my other sons, thankfully we were granted respite but that is pretty much our respite for the month of June.
Caring is a hard role to fulfill.
It is a constant battle between your heart and your mind. The Carer needs breaks. The Carer needs help. The Carer needs supports but, but the Carer carries so much guilt over having to beg for these things that so many stay quietly at home, watching life through a window.
Whether you’re a Carer for your elderly relative or young child, I know first hand how lonely, isolating and damn hard it really is.
Sometimes picking your battles is the only way to get through the day. There is no simple route to follow when you become a Carer. There is help and support through the Carers Association of Ireland , whom by the way, are amazing …but they have to tell you it is the Social Welfare you need to contact .
Anyone who has ever fallen on hard times, knows how hard dealing with the Social welfare are , the stress of getting all the information they require , then there’s their opening times, the lack of help over the phone , the amount of times you’ve to go into the office …and that’s just for an average person who needs a bit of help..
Imagine all that stress coupled with medical worries, meetings with public health nurses, doctors, therapy appointments, changing dressing, cleaning feeding tubes, keeping a house tidy, feeding your family, paying regular bills then extra bills due to special shoes, adapted everything and anything …the list of worries and pressures as a Carer, is endless.
When we’ve babies, we can get through the tough times because we know that they won’t last forever but as a Carer, we don’t have that thought to get us through because the day the tough times stops is the day our world ends, in more ways than one.
We become redundant . We are treated like people who have never ‘worked’ a day and we are thrown out into a workforce we know little to nothing about.
Any income we had is taken away.
Being a Carer has little rewards on paper , in society, in monetary value and of course there is no retirement fund either .
So why do it?
Why become a Carer?
No one, absolutely no one decides to become a Carer, life and circumstances make that decision for us.
Those who do decide to become Carers are doctors, nurses, public health nurses, home helpers, family support workers etc…the difference is they get paid for the job they are doing , us? We get less than 2 euro an hour when you work it out.
I don’t know anyone who works for that little and if I did I would be horrified.
I am horrified at the amount of money I work for .
Society tells me that I am lucky to be able to care for my son while the government pay me.
Society has no clue.
They have no idea what life as a Carer actually is.
There is a stigma attached to us ; when we ask for more money, support, respite, help …surely we should do all this caring out of love and be thankful for the help we do receive…seems to be the mentality of a lot of people especially the government.
We do it all out of love.
We can’t take a break without huge amounts of guilt because we love the person we are caring for.
We won’t ever leave-out of love.
We fight for supports, help and therapies- out of love.
We learn all the medical terms -out of love.
We learn all the routes and rat routes to take when trying to get a simple basic need met- out of love.
We do this over and over and over again- out of love.
We don’t look after our own needs first (even though that’s one of first things people say “are you looking after yourself” we lie a lot when it comes to that question)-out of love.
We cannot look after ourselves or our families as a whole unit until we get the help, support, respite the we need for ourselves.
In a perfect world, Carers allowance and all the benefits given should be looked at again, with a more realistic view .
I think the Carers of Ireland should have nothing to do with the Social Welfare system.
I think being a Carer should be marked as a Career with all the benefits of any other Career , that includes rates of pay.
There should be college course made available ; not basic courses, actual courses where we can work towards something outside of a caring role.
Respite should be regular for every Carer – my parents are Carers and never knew respite existed until my son started respite three years ago, my parents care for my brother who is 40 plus years of age – that alone is shocking , they have never had any respite. It is us, their other children that provide respite for them.
If I could send a message to go along with this years Carers week it would be to pay us, support us, respect us.
For more information on Carers Week please visit Here