Carers stories

Ray is 69 and cares for his wife Irene
Pat and her daughter both needed help
See young carers’ stories

Ray is 69 and cares for his wife Irene
After 2 years of doctors’ appointments and deteriorating health Irene was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was then that Ray found out about Carers Support Centre from his GP.

One of our GP liaison workers met Ray and Irene at their home and completed a Carers Assessment. This included applying for a carers breaks payment, giving advice about local support groups and referring Ray for a Carers Emergency Card and to our sitting service. But, perhaps just as
importantly, she was able to give him time and listen to how he felt.

Ray was struggling to come to terms with Irene’s diagnosis and wanted to find out how he could help his wife as her condition deteriorates. They have been married for 48 years and, for the last 3, Irene has been a totally different person: it has been heart-breaking for him.

Ray was also grieving for his own loss of independence. He had always travelled extensively for his work. He also loved to play golf and meet with old friends from the rugby club. All this had stopped, and he was finding it very difficult to adjust. Friends were not able to deal with Irene’s outbursts of anger and her low mood; and she couldn’t be left alone. Ray was feeling very low and becoming more and more isolated.

Ray also has his own health problems: he is a type 2 diabetic and suffers from fibromyalgia, experiencing constant pain in his joints, especially his hands.

Ray, however, is pragmatic about the future. With our help he was able to gain a lot of information about the support available. As a result he now regularly takes Irene to a Memory Café, to an Alzheimer’s Society group and Singing for the Brain.

We have also been able to match Irene with Barbara, one of our volunteer sitters. Once a week Barbara takes Irene to a local craft group, which Irene very much enjoys.

Ray said: “The sitting service is a lifesaver. It is just 2 hours a week, but you can put up with an awful lot if you know that you can get a break. It’s the only time I meet up with friends I’ve known for 50 years. Barbara is a very creative person and Irene always seems to be quite happy when I get back in. Just recently Barbara has got Irene knitting again. She has always enjoyed art and craft work.”


Pat and her daughter both needed help
Pat is a single mum who looks after her 14-year-old daughter Georgia and four-year-old son Max. Max has an undiagnosed condition. He is aggressive, impulsive, and highly sensory. He is unaware of any
dangers; and day-to-day life caring for him is very stressful.

Ironically, before having Max, Pat worked in a children’s behaviour unit. But when she found herself facing similar problems at home it absolutely knocked her for six. She was unable to go back to work and
she blamed herself for the way Max was.

She was unable to get professionals to take her seriously and to recognise that Max has an ongoing condition. When Pat was referred to a paediatrician she was sent on a parenting course. She felt isolated and desperate.

A friend told Pat about Carers Support Centre and when she contacted us she spoke to Judy, our Parent Carers Support Officer for Bristol.

Pat was experiencing extreme financial pressures and Judy helped her to apply for disability benefit for Max, which Pat didn’t know he was eligible for. Judy also helped her apply to the Family Fund, a charity for children with special needs, and Pat was able to buy some sensory toys for Max.

Judy regularly rang Pat to check how she was and whether she was coping OK. Over the school holidays she knew that Pat was struggling so she contacted her social worker to find out about respite help. As a
result Max was able to attend a centre for children with special needs.
Pat said “Carers Support Centre has been absolutely amazing. Judy has helped me get my life back together. I was on my own, I was just struggling to cope on a day-to-day basis and couldn’t go out to work. She has been a lifesaver for me. And she has also helped my daughter.”

Georgia really struggles with her brother and a lot of the time she will simply lock herself away in her room. Judy referred her to our Young Carers Service. They were able to meet with Georgia’s teacher to put some support in place at school; and helped her apply for a carers grant to buy a camera, as she really loves photography. They are also making sure she gets some time out. She’s already joined in with a graffiti art project with other young carers, benefiting from peer support in a safe and accepting environment.