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When Kelly’s mum suffered a major stroke in 2012, she and her father were suddenly thrust into a new life as carers. Kelly works for an estate agent and lives next door to her parents in Nottinghamshire. This is her story:
Mum’s stroke was a complete shock.
It was January 2012 and dad was still working but mum had retired and was at home.
A neighbour saw mum collapsed on the patio from his window at 11.30am. He went over and called an ambulance. We’re eternally grateful it didn’t happen indoors as dad wouldn’t have found her until 5.30pm when he got home from work.
Mum was left almost paralysed down her left side. When she got to hospital they operated to remove a bleed on her brain. She was in hospital for nine weeks.
When she came home we felt totally in the dark. We had been adapting to our new situation while mum was in hospital, but it was still a huge shock when she was left in the lounge in her wheelchair with us. We had no contact numbers for anyone, and doing things like using the hoist felt very different compared to in hospital.
Dad had to retire early to be mum’s full time carer. Mum doesn’t want to be left alone as she worries that she will have a seizure, which is a side effect of the stroke.
This means that dad is now tied to the maisonette where they live. His work colleagues have never been in touch. Family were very supportive at the time of the stroke, but we do find people visit or call less.
I wish Dad and I had known that things would get easier once we got into the routine. I know this isn’t the case for everyone who is caring, but it has been two years since mum’s stroke and we’ve found things have changed massively.
We have care workers who visit in the morning and evening to help mum wash and get dressed. We’ve also learnt ways to make caring a bit easier as we’ve gone along, like using a silicone mat under mum’s dinner plate to stop it moving on the table, or having mum sit on a towel when she’s in her armchair so dad can easily pull her up if she slips down.
Mum loves being able to have a bubble bath. At first we didn’t know how we could do that for her. It was another patient in the hospital who suggested we contact social services, and within a week they had come out and arranged for a bath chair to be fitted.
Caring has made me realise how delicate life is. You must fully appreciate each day you have.
It’s important to look after yourself as well as the person you are caring for. What would really make a difference for families like ours is if the health service and others gave us information, advice and support, and realised what we have to do.
In many ways, caring for mum has brought us closer together. I’ll always be grateful for that.
- Carers’ Week 2015 runs from June 8 to 14. To find out more about what the local NHS is doing to support it visit the carers week website.