Sharon Grocock – Unpaid carer and Peer Support Lead – Working Age Dementia Service (WAD)
My role as a Peer Support Lead at Nottinghamshire Healthcare and my own experiences of COVID-19 whilst caring for my husband are busy and varied.
The Working Age Dementia Service currently offer weekly telephone support for patients and their carers. We check in on people and offer advice to help them to stay well. We give information on activities and provide a listening ear. Communication is important and it’s someone to talk too as well.
Unfortunately, as the weeks have progressed, the health and wellbeing of some unpaid carers has changed. They tell us they are feeling more isolated from their extended families and friends. Changes to their partners own health needs have made it lonelier for them especially due to reduced community services who would usually be there to help.
This is something I can identify with myself. I have noticed changes within my husband. His abilities and his communication levels have changed. The increased reliance on me has become more noticeable due to working from home. Independence is vital to my husband’s own wellbeing. I love him dearly and sticking to routines is important to keeping him on the recovery path. Encouragement to complete tasks has increased. I do more these days, and this can be very frustrating when he answers “Later”.
The twelve weeks isolation period was difficult. John had been in hospital, so I couldn’t have direct contact with him during that time, only through a window. This was a very lonely time for me and concerning for John, as this was the point his mental health deteriorated, and his mood dropped.
It’s a fine line. My work life balance needs managing for me as a carer and for John, my husband as his needs are complex. Its’s vital to have an understanding team, manager and employer who are willing to listen and offer support. Our Trust became members of Employers for Carers in March 2020. They run The Carer Confident benchmarking scheme helping our Trust to build a supportive and inclusive workplace for staff who are, or will become, carers.
This, combined with the flexible working arrangements the Trust already provides is helping with John being so poorly recently. This also affected my holiday as John was in hospital during this time. I’m pleased to say my line manager and colleagues understand. I don’t have to always explain myself. They give me empathy.
This is a good starting point. If we begin this, it will be demonstrated within our work and the care we give to our patients and families.