As the second week of England’s new lockdown begins we’re all feeling it’s realities sink in, but for family carers, that feeling of isolation hasn’t lifted since the first lockdown – seven months ago.
We spoke to single mum Diane Trowell, from Hull, who has been caring for her son Wesley, 27, all of his life, after he was born with cerebral palsy. Wes is physically disabled and a full-time wheelchair user, and has a device to help him communicate.
As well as having daily support from professional carers, Wesley would usually come on around four week-long Revitalise holidays a year, enabling both him and Diane to enjoy a well-deserved break. However, these holidays have all stopped with the pandemic, and Diane hasn’t had a break for months – while Wesley has completely lost his independence.
“I’ve really struggled through the last few months, I’m alright and then it just hits me.” she says.
Wes is very independent in normal life, so has really struggled during the pandemic.
“I feel like I need to get out. I think, ‘where can I go?’ I go to the Humber Bridge and just sit there, it’s really relaxing. Then I think, ‘I’ve got to go home’. You put the radio on and nothing’s changed.”
“I’ve been through struggles in the past, worrying what Wes’ life held for him, but never anything like this.”
Wes is extremely independent normally, organising all his own care needs via his computer, as well as regular trips to see friends and going to rugby matches with his carers or his mum.
However, being stuck inside has taken its toll on both him and Diane, and she is now hoping for more mental health support for carers, and ultimately, more recognition for what they do.
“I don’t think they realise what people are doing for mums, dads, children. They don’t realise what it involves,” she says.
“There’s no switching off, at all. You can’t have a phone call without planning it. I’ve been doing this all Wes’ life.”
As our CEO, Jan Tregelles, put it, “The mental health and well-being of home carers is hanging by a thread.”
“The pressures of yet another six months in isolation, caring for a seriously-ill or disabled loved one, without support or a chance to take a break is simply unbearable. Emergency respite care is a solution and must be made available now, before it is too late.”
To help us support people like Diane and Wesley, please donate to our Raise A Million appeal and help spread the word about the desperate struggle carers are facing right now.
Diane and Wes’ story was featured by The Sun, along with the stories of several other unpaid carers. Read the full article here.