2 The carers
Through Jonathan and Jane, we hear from three people in different caring relationships. At the time of the recording, in 2000, Julie, Les and Carol were involved in caring roles. Pat talks from the point of view of someone who used to be a carer.
All three were willing to be interviewed, in order to share their experiences, despite having to reorganise their daily routines and give up precious free time. The interviews took place at a local advice centre.
Julie is the mother of a disabled child. Although she gets a break during the day, she has to escort him to and from school on the bus. The local education authority has made this a condition of his using school transport. The two double journeys take up most of the day, and she has only a brief period between late morning and early afternoon to get all her jobs done.
Les looks after his adult son, who has severe mental health problems and never leaves the house. Although Les does not have to provide a high level of personal care, he cannot go out very much because of his son's disturbed behaviour. His wife can cope alone for short periods, but she worries if she is left alone with their son for long. An added pressure for Les is the stigma attached to mental distress. He believes his neighbours would react negatively, if they knew his son had schizophrenia, and we were only able to record this interview on condition that we used a pseudonym.
Carol cares for both her mother and her aunt. When she came in to speak to us, she brought with her a diary entry for a typical day (attached below). What is striking about Carol's diary is the physical labour of caring, the number of people coming and going in the course of a day, and the fact that personal care has to be fitted in alongside car repairs, housework, and other family commitments.
Have a look at Carol's diary.
Pat Amsell is a volunteer who helps with the liaison project's telephone support line, which is operated by people who all have first-hand experience of caring.