Carers in Lockdown

As Carers Week draws to a close we have been reflecting on the impact of coronavirus on family members and friends who care for our patients at home.

Our Carers Service team have been supporting carers during the lockdown period and wehat we have noticed is that many carers have been experiencing increased isolation with the lockdown preventing carers from seeking help from their usual support network, whether that’s family and friends or from care workers who visit the home. We have slso seen carers taking on more responsibilities as other forms of support have been withdrawn.

At St Joseph’s we have seen these difficulties and are finding creative ways to support those who are isolated at home, whether that’s a friendly telephone call from one of our fabulous volunteers, helping someone to use Zoom to stay connected virtually, or providing advocacy for those who need a little bit of help to get their voice heard.

We know that at some point we will all see each other again and look forward to re-launching all our social groups and community visits. But in the meantime, we will keep finding innovative ways to continue to provide much needed social and emotional support for carers.

Here is a carer’s experience of lockdown, they wish to remain anonymous.

I’m retired and I care for my sister, she has a diagnosis of cancer and dementia. I promised her I would help to look after her for as long as I’m able to, and I know that she would have done the same for me.

Family has always been very important to us. My relationship with my sister has always been full of love and laughter. Being together gives us reassurance, whatever help we ever needed, we always readily gave it to one another.

Tell us about your experience of lockdown

My experience of lockdown has been very difficult considering my age and my own medical problems. While there is support from care workers in the morning and evening, you are still a carer 24/7.

Not having family around during lockdown has been hard, it’s the lack of face-to-face contact and real conversations. I worry about my sister not having the social contact she needs. But I do my best to be there for her and to reassure her.

A big difficulty has been that she wants to go out but doesn’t understand why we can’t. I try to explain the situation but she forgets. It’s very frustrating for her. I’m trying to protect myself, and I’m trying to protect her at the same time.

The theme for Carers Week this year is Making Carers Visible, what do you think society could do to better support carers?

Just a little bit more help, where you can have a break, time to breathe, and take a little bit of weight off. But for my sister as well, she needs to be able to go out, to meet with people, and have those relationships.

We should all be working together. The care workers have a role to play, I have a role to play and my role is making sure my sister feels comfortable and that things have been done, because it’s difficult for her to express herself, that’s why I’m here looking out for her. We are all just trying to do what we can, and it all comes down to the same word; caring. So we need to do that.

I would have been at a loss without the support from St Joseph’s. I am so grateful for the support and contact we have had from the Carers Service and the community palliative care nurse. I owe the Hospice so much gratitude.

If you would like to know more about our Carers Service contact
Jo Bedford,