Saturday, 19 June 2010

Oops! Neglected The Blog...So Here's What I Did During Carers Week...

It has been an odd few weeks with everything stacked against me sitting for very long in front of the computer, so no blogging, very little twittering and next to no Facebook. Life is beginning to take shape again so blog first..

Five or six weeks ago saw the reoccurrence of a silly problem with my legs. Fortunately just one leg this time, but it involves hanging around with the leg elevated and two weeks of powerful anti-biotics. In the absence of a reliable laptop and the loss of the phone with Wi-Fi social networking was next to impossible and wouldn't have made a lot of sense anyway under the influence of knock out anti-biotics and pain killers. To add to the personal chaos I started a creative writing course five weeks ago, only two hours a week, last session next week.

Of course Sarah being autistic, she doesn't quite get the problem's involved with undertaking promises of longish journeys followed by longish walks when one is not really supposed to be standing up let alone taking on shopping trips, so she hasn't been all that cooperative over the last few weeks to say the least and has been letting the world at large know about it in no uncertain terms. And of course, husbands being what they are, getting him to do much more than make a cup of tea and piece of toast for himself is like asking him if could knock up a banquet for fifty. Hopeless.

Well the leg's starting to get better, should still be resting it most of the time, but that just can't be done. Anyway, Monday saw the start of Carers Week, thankfully Sarah was in respite care for most of the week so I could get on with all the stuff I seemed to have gotten involved with over the week. First was Monday morning going to a training session for social workers and care managers all about how to approach filling in the new carers assessment forms and discuss the outcomes. My personal experience of carers assessments have been negative to say the least, just a box ticking exercise with no positive outcome at all, so I was there to try and convince them that carers are people who do what they do because the welfare of the person they care for is important to them, and that often they have given up their careers and livelihoods to take up the mantle of a carer for the person they love, for no reward and very few thank you's. It had not occurred to several of them that when doing the carers assessment,  many carers felt they had to hold back on what they felt or even needed in case this made them look incapable or not up to the job in some way. Social workers are still seen as the enemy in some communities, nosey parkers who don't have a clue about bring up kids on an impoverished housing estate. This opinion still holds in many families that I know of in my area and Social Services has got a major PR job on it's hands to get to a lot of them. Many people misunderstand that when a carers assessment is done it is for the benefit of the carer, to make sure they are getting what they need and to see if anything can be improved, not an assessment of the carers ability which to be frank, is what it sounds like.

Tuesday morning, creative writing course. Now this is great fun and worth going a bit too far on a bad leg to attend. Organised initially by Rhondda Cynon Taf Carers Support Project with the help of Acadami, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society for Writers. This little course, which is free for carers, attracted some really interesting people, at least three of whom have actually written whole books but never had the courage or cash to proceed to agents and publishers. It will be the last session next week but a few of us have decided it's much too good a group to be abandoned, so we'll be setting up our own little literary group to meet up once a month and hope to attract a few more people to come and join us.

Wednesday saw the main Carers Week event for Rhondda Cynon Taf in Tonyrefail leisure centre. All sorts of stuff going on and most of the agencies there with their leaflets and freebies and people happy to give information if needed, speeches from councillors etc. a nice lunch and payback time for the creative writers because they insisted we read a few of our poems and shorter pieces on caring to the assembled throng. Being Wales, this went down quite well, had it been anywhere else I suspect there would have been a mass exodus at the mention of a poetry reading! Arrived home with enough energy saving light bulbs to last a lifetime, which have gone into the cupboard with the other lifetime supply I got last year, enough pens to keep us going for a goodly while, more post it note pads than it is possible to use, but best of all, a big bag of fresh salad from a new community food co-op which I shall most certainly be looking into!

Didn't do a thing on Thursday, just sat with the leg elevated like a good girl.  Friday was another matter entirely. A free activity day in the Dare Valley Country Park,  just for carers. I did suggest that I possibly shouldn't attend  this particular event but was told the bus was going to collect me in the morning whether I liked it or not, so I figured I'd better go. First thing to be endured was a 'gentle warm up' out in a field led by a very attractive young man with a fine tan and no comprehension of the difficulty lunges present to women in their very late fifties with failing knees, but he was nice to watch and had lovely teeth. We were then put in teams and did some sort of memory game, my team won and no we didn't cheat. then we had a choice of activities which included abseiling, nordic walking, cycling, archery and orienteering. Hmm...bad leg....opted for archery, never done it before, easy peazy, don't know what the fuss is about, managed to make that last until it was to late to do anything else before lunch, so sat around the visitors centre drinking coffee and taking photographs of the swallows nesting in the nooks and crannies around the building. Surly that is an outdoor activity? Over lunch a small group of the totally exhausted, myself included, chose to spend the afternoon orienteering at a pace dictated by age and injury, at least three of us had done the walk before so knew where the markers were we were supposed to be looking for, so once we'd made it to the highest point, which was obviously the most difficult and fortunately the first part of the walk, the next hour was just a nice gentle stroll in the countryside interrupted by a couple of stiles. All in all a good day out, if a little tiring, and I don't think I did my leg any favours, but on the up side, there were two of us doing the orienteering who are in the writers group and I think we may have enrolled a new member to our little group when it gets started. so a personal achievement alongside the chance that we may have made a few more people aware of Carers and the big part they play in society for very little reward.

That's enough for now, got to go and get some tea ready for the family and then elevate the leg for a few minutes because its starting to ache and I'm fed up with taking pain killers! will try nnot to leave it so long before the next blog, promise.....



  1. Carers; they work their butts off and get little reward. Unless the work is for their offspring of course, which in my case, it is. The rewards I get are priceless. I used to get carers allowance until they decided that I earn too much! On paper. A pound over the allowed amount and they made me pay back £1,300 last year. The system is dispicable and doesn't help carers at all in my view.

    CJ xx

  2. Hi, CJ
    Ooh, don't get me started on the benefit system for carers. I'm probably going to start using Direct Payments to get some sort of continuity of care for Sarah, but I can't use family members who know her and her needs and are ideally suited for the job. A lady I met last week is having to pay back over £3,000 because she had her daughter look after her husband, the girls dad, while the person she employed took paid sick leave! What amazes me is that the various arms of social services and welfare benefits seem unable to communicate with each other. Heaven help us now that we have a government that is ideologically opposed to a welfare state.
    Irene xx