A break in the weather
So now I am officially in receipt of Carers’ Allowance, available if you are looking after someone for 35 hours a week. You don’t have to be living in, just doing things like admin, shopping, cooking etc etc. All these things I certainly do because as I believe I may have already pointed out, caring seems to be bottomless and whatever you do, there is always more.
For this I get £62.70 a week and there is a limit on how much I can work / earn doing another job, which is one of the reasons I resigned from mine.
I will discuss the political implications of this pay capping another time, but while grateful at the moment to be compensated in some small way for my role, I can see that this is murky territory for carers.
Have I joined an invisible underclass? A secret army of people who you’d never see because they never stop working, often with a low-paid job on top of caring because somehow they have to make ends meet? Who are permanently on the go, exhausted and desperately isolated but have no voice?
Will I become one of them? Not if I can help it.
Meanwhile, the NHS run Active Recovery service has now given way to Short Term Intervention from the local authority. I’m crossing my fingers as I write this but they have been marvellous - I can’t quite believe how much so.
They are now coming in three times a day to administer morning and night-time medications, help Nick get washed and dressed in the morning and undressed at night and make sure that he has something to eat.
They clean the table and slice cherry tomatoes and cucumber attractively on his plate to tempt him to eat some veg. They have – without asking – emptied the bins, fed the cats and taken washing out of the machine when the cycle finishes and hung it all up. To me that is astonishing, because none of these things were in the care plan which means they are thinking outside the box. Noticing what else might need to be done, and just doing it. I feel so grateful.
Admittedly, they are not so hot on recycling (must leave them a note) and whoever comes in the morning cannot seem to open the curtains properly. But the important thing is that Nick is safe, medicated, fed, and he has some social contact with people he sees regularly and can get used to.
The bad news is that although he had a bath seat fitted last week, he has only been able to use it once to have a shower as his sudden backward spasming almost tipped him off, and even with two carers helping, they thought it was unsafe. So it’s back to having a strip wash. Poor Nick.
He is sanguine about it in the way that someone is when they have entered the realm of medical intervention. His body is not entirely his own affair any more, he’s become used to being a patient. He’s a very patient patient at that, and I have promised him that we will find a way to get him in the shower soon even if it means going down to the circus in the park and demanding the phone number of an obliging elephant!
But for the moment, things are on an even keel and although I know it won’t last, it feels like a relief just to be ordinary and have some of that pottering time I was talking about and that blessed stillness.