Saturday, October 9, 2010

Position Vacant

One of the biggest problems faced by carers is the loss of their own identity.  All too easily the first thing to be lost when you start caring for someone else is the person that you were.

Carers are often required to work or at least be on call, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Their first and foremost concern is to provide a safe, happy and healthy environment for those that they care for.

Imagine this job ad in your local paper

You might think that's rather a joke - and it is a bit tongue-in-cheek.  But essentially it is quite true.  When you are a full time carer, it is 24x7 and there are no holidays.  You don't get public holidays - any services you might have secured to help you out actually don't operate on public holidays.  You don't get annual leave.  You don't get long service leave.  You don't even get sick days off. 

This leaves no time for the carer to spend with themselves or their family.  And yes, some carers are also caring for a family - it isn't always one-on-one.  And it can get even more complicated - for example, sometimes a wife must provide care for a husband with a stroke and a mother with dementia.

Even when there is just one person with an issue requiring care, any free time the carer has is usually diverted to their family. Carers with no other family usually have absolutely no help at all and subsequently no time at all.

When you are a principal carer for someone, it is frequently a story of loneliness and isolation.

There is no free time for friends.  The duties of being a carer often means a day is badly fractured even when you are not needed to be present continuously.  A half-an-hour or even an hour is generally not sufficient to start any task unrelated to caring.   What little time there is available must be dedicated to sleep, personal grooming and hygiene, eating and so on.

There is no time for anything else.

Add to this the simple fact that the relationships enjoyed before this carer role arose are slowly but surely eaten away.  Child becomes parent, parent becomes child - although even this is an over simplification.  The love, the relationship, the sense of bonding is altered, sometimes destroyed, as the carer battles to maintain the life of someone who is perpetually degrading - possibly physically, possibly mentally, frequently both.

This is why the carer so often loses all sense of who they actually are.  The person that they were before they embarked on this long road of service becomes efffectively extinct. They are left as semi-automatic robots whose health - mental, physical and emotional - continuously degrades.

And when the caring role ends, what is left?

The answer is nothing.

But it doesn't have to be like this.

This is the point of StayingMe.

This blog - and the small business behind it - is here to help carers and those they care for to live better, fuller lives.  To retain at least some small part of who they were - to help them in the challenge which is 'Staying Me'.