As we celebrate Mothering Sunday this month, Revitalise is taking the opportunity to champion female carers, whose unpaid caring work contributes £7.7 billion to the UK economy.
In 2017, the Department for Equality and the Human Rights Commission released a report that showed women and disabled people have been hit the hardest by years of austerity, driving these groups of people deeper into poverty. There are 13.3 million disabled people in the UK of which 7.4 million are women. Furthermore, out of the 4.9 million carers in the UK, a startling 2.9 million are women.
A study undertaken by Revitalise has highlighted the pressure felt by women to assume a caring role ahead of men.9 out of 10 (89%) of female carers who took part in the study, felt there was an expectation in families and society that women take on the role of carer, to which over 8 out of 10 (84%) non-carers also agreed.
These findings paint a stark picture but regardless of gender, Revitalise is holding up the study as evidence that much more needs to be done to support unpaid family carers – especially in terms of regular respite from caring – and also that the perceived issue of gender bias within caring needs to be addressed.
Here we share the stories of two Revitalise guests and their role as both a mother and carer.
Patricia and her daughter Loraine
There are many people who have dedicated their entire life to caring for and looking after those they love. For these people, their own happiness and well-being is determined by the happiness of those they care for. They will always put them first no matter what.
For many people – like Patricia and her daughter Loraine – the pressure of giving and receiving care was taking its toll on both of their lives.
Patricia has been Loraine’s full-time sole carer since the day she was born, providing daily, round-the-clock care for her daughter with minimal support for herself. She also looks after her son, his partner and their new-born son, who also live with her and Loraine.
“I’m supposed to be retired but I’m a full time carer. I get disturbed every night to help Loraine, as she is fully dependent on me. I do everything I can for her, but my own movement is limited and it’s very much a strain on both our lives. If we didn’t have a break, the situation would only get worse for us both”.
Costs and accessibility are major issues when it comes to disabled women and female carers taking a break, however when Patricia discovered Revitalise and arranged for Loraine to spend a week at Jubilee Lodge she instantly felt a weight lift off her shoulders.
June and her daughter Sally-Ann
Sally-Ann is just 28 years old but she has needed round the clock care since birth. Every single step of the way her mum, June has been there supporting her however she needed it. From plaiting her hair to reading her books at night, through to carrying her into the car and bathing her everyday, June has always been there as a shoulder to laugh and cry on.
In all those 28 years, June hadn’t had one night away from Sally-Ann, but she never, ever complained because she felt that’s what you do for someone you love.
The only thing June wanted was time, time to just be mother and daughter. As Sally-Ann said to her mother so many times:
‘’Mum, you’re my district nurse, my physio, my carer; you do so many jobs. If I could go somewhere where I’m looked after, then you can just be my Mum.’’
Time is just what June and Sally-Ann got when they had a week’s break with Revitalise, as June described:
‘’It was so important for us to have the respite and it was a really good rest for the both of us. I could let my hair down and for once in a blue moon I didn’t have to worry about the responsibilities of home. Some people would say that Revitalise is just a break but it’s so much more than that.’’
Revitalise holds dear every single guest who comes through its doors. A break should be just that, the chance to rebuild and reconnect with loved ones and just be yourself. Those who stay with us are no longer cared for and carer, but wife and husband, mother and daughter, volunteer and guests, old and new friend – one human being and another.
That’s why this Mother’s Day we want to celebrate marvellous mums everywhere, while highlighting the need to support unpaid family carers like Patricia and June.