Care transactions
Care transactions

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Care transactions

4 Audio clip 3: Enid Francis

Enid Francis lived in a modern residential area on the outskirts of Derby. She shared a house with her husband, Wally, and two grown-up sons, Mark and John. Her husband had had to give up work eighteen months before his retirement, because of a heart complaint. Their two sons, aged 35 and 32, were both autistic. Enid's day was organised around meeting their needs for care and support. On weekdays, they attended a day centre, which she would have to get them ready for. When they came home in the evening, she showered them, got them into clean clothes and prepared their tea. If it was fine, they would go for a walk, or a drive.

With her husband at home, she had more help than she had had before. However, without his wage coming in, she worried about how they would fare financially. Social Services paid for someone to come in for an hour-and-a-half a week, to help with ironing. That was all the help she got with care at home. At first, she didn't have to pay for this service, but recent changes in local charging policy meant that she then had to pay the minimum charge. The family were also assessed by a community nurse, and this led to their getting a shower room.

Enid and her husband were born in Jamaica. Her first job was in a weaving factory. Later she worked as a nursing assistant at a mental hospital. After her sister returned to Jamaica, the family had to rely on Wally's relations for support. She appreciated their help, as well as the support she got from two close friends.

Her two sons, Mark and John, got Income Support, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance. On this basis, Enid received an Invalid Care Allowance. She worried about what would happen when she turned 60 and was no longer eligible for ICA. She talks about the costs of care, but also about her commitment to her sons.

At times, she had applied for Mark and John go into residential care on a respite basis. She paid £52 a week for each place. Enid was cynical about Social Services and social workers. She would only ask for help if she was desperate. As she saw it, people like her didn't get help, because she managed to have a ‘decent home’. She had been involved in carers' groups over the years and went on to help in the launch of a Caribbean Association of Carers. She's found out that people didn't know what they were entitled to, so one of the things she did was to help other people claim the benefits and allowances due to them.

Enid contrasted her situation with that of other people she knows, who have put their children into residential care and returned to work, earning salaries and providing for their old age. As she says:

They're my children, and it's my duty to look after them. At the end of the day, I've saved the government … I'm going to say, pretty near a million pounds.

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Transcript: Clip 3: Interview with Enid Francis

Helen Robinson
Unlike John, Enid Francis does get some statutory support for caring for her two sons with learning difficulties. A former nursing assistant, Enid says the financial impact of giving up paid employment has been profound.
Enid Francis
I do think about it in that sense, because I sort of think about in this way … that they're my children, and it's my duty to look after them. But, when you think about it, if they were normal, I would look after them until they can look after themselves. And, you know, they're children, then they're young men. Now that they're adult, they're men, and I've got to be looking after them all the time.
It's very hard work because, if they were alright, they would have got married, they would have been gone. I would have been out to work earning a living for myself. All my life is just revolved about them. But I'm not complaining, because they weren't asked to be born. I just look at it that's it's my duty to do my best for them. So I just look on it as a part of my everyday work, to look after them.
The benefit that John and Martin get is … they get Income Support, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance - those three benefits they get. Some of my friends … they told me that the Attendance Allowance … they keep it for themselves. Well, I don't think it's enough, what they're getting, for me, to take the Attendance Allowance. So what I do … I use it for them, for their board and lodge, their clothes, and to take them out. Like, when they're on holiday, I do take them to the theme park, or take them to the pub for a drink ... which my husband doesn't know this, because he doesn't like them drinking. But my eldest, John, he likes his beer. So that's what I use the benefit for, and I do a little savings for them, because I've got think about the time when I'm not around. They'll need something to fall back onto, so that's what I use it for.
As for the benefit I get, I just use it for myself. But, one thing about this benefit that bothers me is, when I reach the age of 60, I was told that that benefit will be stopped. I did some research about this, and I'm not too sure but, as far as I know, this ICA will stop when I'm 60. And the only benefit that I'm going to get to care for three people is going to be £28 a week. And, heavens help me, I don't know what £28 can do. And, at the end of the day, I've saved the government … I'm going to say, pretty near a million pounds.
So I must tell you, I haven't got any relatives of my own. My husband has got plenty relatives, and they are the best people. They're ever so good to me and the children. And I've got a few good friends. I've got a few friends who are like sisters to me. So I do get help from my friends.
And I'm one of those people who are very good with my fingers. I haven't got the time now, but I do do dressmaking - a bit of sewing. I'm not boasting, but I'm quite good at it. And I do bake. So, like, they come here … there'll be a lovely cake - maybe a carrot cake - or a bit of fabric, and I'll be putting the tape measure around someone to make them something. But I must be honest with you, the last two years I've found it hard to fit things like those in. But my relatives and my friends … they're not looking for pay.
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