My roles and responsibilities

This section asks you to think about the various roles you have in your life and what these involve. To help you do this, carers Jade, Janet and Dean have shared their experiences with you. Read and listen to them and see how they have summarised their roles and responsibilities.

Jade

Jade, who’s 19, cares for her dad and is learning to be a youth worker. She left school and started training in childcare. She left her college course after the first year but knew she needed to do something else, so she decided to volunteer. Having gained experience of youth work through volunteering she was then accepted onto a training course and later offered a paid job. She is part of a supportive group of young adult carers who learn, have fun together and share and support each other in their caring roles.

Listen to Jade talking about her caring role.

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Transcript

Jade
I care for my Dad who has a few things. Em he’s got sleep apnoea, where he stops breathing during the night, so he’s got to wear an oxygen mask. Em he also suffers from depression, em so I’ve got to make sure he takes his medication and stuff. And just quite recent the past couple of weeks, he’s had heart problems. Em so, he’s got loads of meds for that. Em, but I’ve got to go along and do the shopping and stuff for him, help manage money, the kinda things that he’d be able to do for himself.
Em I didn’t really realise I was a carer. Em, I just kind of seen it as life. That was, I was actually working and I’d seen a leaflet about young carers, and I was like aw that sounds like a couple of people in my work. And I was reading it a bit more thoroughly and I’m like wait that actually sounds like me as well! So I phoned the number on the back, I remember it quite clearly because it was the day before my 18th birthday, and they’re like oh yeah pop down to the centre and you can have a wee chat with the group worker - Em you’ll actually fit into the young adult category. I’m like oh this actually sounds quite exciting!
Definitely having someone to go to, like the group’s brilliant because it kinda made me see I’m not the only young adult carer out there. That it’s not just actually life. Because I just knew it as normality. So it’s having someone that’s been in your situation and you can go and talk to them and they know exactly how you’re feeling and they can even offer you a bit of advice. But it’s good for it to be someone around your age as well. Because it’s quite often like there was adults like telling me ‘oh you’ll get through it’. But it was at the time I needed the comfort of someone there and that’s what the group’s brilliant for. Like the day I joined it, I have never felt so welcome. And everybody that’s come into our group has said ‘oh wow, I didn’t expect it to be so welcoming’. It’s definitely brilliant!
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The following table sets out Jade’s roles and responsibilities.

Table 1.1 Jade’s roles and responsibilities

My main roles in lifeWhat I do
Daughter, carerCare for my dad, take care of household tasks.
Young adult carer championWork with the Carers Centre to support other young adult carers, including developing a website for young adult carers.
Employee, colleagueWork as a youth worker supporting young people; communicate with my colleagues and manager.
StudentStarting a Professional Development Award in Youthwork.
Friend Support and encourage my young adult carer friends, as well as keeping up with other friends.

Janet

Janet
Figure 1.2 Janet (Library image)

Janet, 42, had not studied since her son was born. While caring for her son over the past 19 years she’s learned a lot through volunteering at his school and also at SenseScotland. Now that her son is becoming an adult she has a little more time to herself and is in a position to consider what paid work she’d like to take on in the future. She’s clear that she’d like to work in services for people with disabilities and would like to do further study to get there. Knowing that distance learning is the only practical way forward for her, Janet is studying Health and Social Care with The Open University and fitting that in around her caring and volunteering responsibilities, which can be a tricky juggling act at times.

Janet says:

Thinking back to the person that I used to be, that has all gone, everything. I've taken on a different role.. Well, so many different roles. I’ve got all these other roles that you’re going right, OK what did I use to do before I did everything else? … It has, it’s changed me as a person. And I’d probably say for a better person.

Table 1.2 Janet’s roles and responsibilities

My main roles in life What I do
VolunteerI help out weekly with SenseScotland
Carer and parentCare for my 19 year old son with complex learning difficulties
StudentStarted studying health and social care

Dean

Dean, who’s 28, cares for his mum, brother and grandad. He has decided that he’d like to find ways to develop his career. He knows that the better employment he finds, the better placed he is to support his family and fulfil his caring responsibilities. Combining his paid work and his caring role has been challenging and he has felt unsupported by his employer and trade union, despite being a workplace union representative. In order to progress his career, Dean has decided to reduce his work to four shifts a week so he can combine his employment with his Open University studying and his caring roles. He faces continuing challenges with his own health, but is clear and focused on his long-term aim to work in IT.

Listen to Dean talking about his caring role.

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Transcript

Dean
Eh I’m the full time carer of my grandfather, also look after my brother, mother and sometimes my uncle. Eh I work at a supermarket for over 8 years now.
Em, I had a few problems at work, eh they weren’t very flexible with, with what was happening eh? My uncle, sorry my granddad had a heart attack and a stroke. Um my mum was diagnosed with cancer. It all happened roughly at the same time, so I was in and out of hospital all the time. Um needed a lot of time off work. They werenae being very flexible. Quite threatening and um just decided I needed to, to better myself really. Just to get a better job so I can help out a wee bit more, maybe be more at home to help out more. That’s the goal anyway. [Laughs]
I reduced it to three days, but I’ve just recently knocked it back up to four for financial reasons. [Laughs]
Yeah. Most of it was eh like I say it was financial reasons, there was a lot of financial reasons that I couldnae go to university unfortunately. But I’ve gathered my pennies, I’ve got the missus helping me, so I felt this is about, as right a time as ever. It’s the best time I’ve had so far anyway to, to really focus on my studies because I did go to college when I was, well after high school. And em I had to drop out for the same financial reasons, even at that age.
Eh I’m enjoying it the now. I’m enjoying it a lot actually. I thought it was going to be more um, school like, you know it’s no like that. I’m comfortable in the house you know em, I can concentrate. Doing all my caring for my mum, because I have to take her shopping. My brother, take him to the hospital. And my granddad I look after full time. So basically get all the housework done. And then at night is my time to do all my studying. And so I wouldn’t be able to do that in a brick college. It’s just not possible.
Em well I’m slowly learning to cook. [Laughs] That’s, that’s a start. Eh I’ve been learning to cook because my granddad’s not one for em fast food. Likes his homemade meal eh and I’ve been trying, and failing quite a lot, but I’m slowly learning. Em, which the missus also likes. But aye eh I’ve been doing that, I’ve been looking after the time, you know, ’cos it’s alright only looking after one person’s hospital appointments and doctor appointments, but I’ve got three to deal with. So juggling all of them, I’ve learned how to prioritise and organise and all that stuff and then em doing letters, so many letters. [Laughs] Having to do all these letters, eh loads and loads of letters that I’ve, I didnae ken how to fill in but I’m slowly learning er how to do it and banks and all, juggling my granddad’s bank and doing all the kind of, I’m doing his finances and all so, I’m learning bits and bobs. It’s coming, coming.
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As well as his multiple caring roles Dean has other responsibilities as a trade union representative:

I was back and forward to the hospital and work basically said we cannae help you any more, you could end up losing your job if you take any more days off. I got in touch with my union, because I’m a union representative. They basically said we’ve got no agreements when it comes to carers.