Monday, 13 June 2011

It's Carers Week. I'd Better Say Something About It....

Carers Week 13th – 19th June 2011

Carers week already, it crept up on me this year. I know I've been seeing references to it all over the place but after a year of being vilified in the press about being a 'benefit scrounger' it is easy to forget the positives. So today I finally got my head around it, made a few phone calls and got my week organised.

A sort of bonus for this week is that Sarah has a few days in respite so I don't need to be home to meet and greet in the afternoon or worry about the damage the husband and daughter 'home alone' combo might do to the house and any trauma inflicted on the dog in my absence.

So tomorrow sees the start of a week of "activities for carers living in  Rhondda Cynon Taff designed to give a mixture of opportunities for you to access information and advice, to learn from other carers experiences and to have a little fun!" And the first event is.....

'Trouble Shooting drop-in session. Access support, information and advice about wills, benefits, debt, and getting back to work with support.'

Very nice, much needed I'm sure, but I'm having a 'week off', better known as respite, and since all the above has a tendency to depress me I'm steering clear of that lot, and anyway, I got a better offer for lunch from the Older Carers Support Worker. I turned 60 this year, I'm officially older, I got a bus pass! No pension yet but they moved the goal posts on that one. Never been one to refuse a free lunch so that's Tuesday sorted out.

There's nothing doing on Wednesday, so I suspect that will be the day I have to go to Aberdare and Asda and pull some weeds out of the garden. Thursday could be interesting.....

'Carers Celebration and Information event in Hawthorn Leisure Centre - bring your gym kit! A chance to find out about support available for carers locally and your opportunity to join the Carers Strategy Implementation Group meeting, join in a taster adult education session or a relaxation class, have a manicure and join us for a buffet lunch.'

Bring your Gym kit!?!?!? I think not. Observing and commenting on the Carers Strategy Implementation group meeting seems much more appealing and most probably pain free. Apparently there will be floral arrangement and relaxation classes available too. I opted for floral arrangement a couple of years ago, the relaxation class followed by a session with a hypnotherapist after the floral disarray were a godsend. Hopefully the Strategy meeting will take us right up to lunch and I can avoid getting involved with the 'gym inductions' and the 'free taster Zumba Gold (designed for the over 50's)' and be home in time for tea. Friday is the most interesting day for me, I'm involved with this already so really I should be there.....

'Carers Sharing Session. Find out how you can be a part of recruiting and training the next generation of social workers, nurses and social care staff. Come and hear other carers stories and meet the staff you may be working with over lunch.'

These sessions are great. They are a mixture of carers, service users and staff who provide an overview of their experiences of involvement and the benefits they have gained or seen, followed by a chance for others to get involved. In my experience much is gained on both sides, service providers are often unaware of problems carers and service users may have beyond the direct professional involvement, carers and service users don't always understand the problems within social services, and of course carers and service users don't always agree! These get togethers are always eye openers on all sides and the knowledge gained is invaluable.  Which brings us to Saturday.....

'Carers Day Out! An action packed activity day for carers and cared for in Dare Valley Country Park. Try out Canoeing, have a guided walk or learn some circus skills - suitable for carers and cared for of all ages and abilities.'

Now I submitted myself to this torture last year, the 'gentle warm up' almost killed me, and if you think I'm going to break the habit of a life time, which is the avoidance of canoes under all circumstances, you've got another think coming! I already know how to juggle and how to spin plates, both activities quite pointless and a bit boring after a while. The only other circus skills I can think of are unicycling, stilt walking, tightrope walking and the flying trapeze so I think the wisest move would be total avoidance of the beautiful Dare Valley Country Park on Saturday.  A little bit of gardening if the weather allows seems quite appealing.

So that's my carers week sorted out, three lunches and plenty of opportunities to put the world to rights, see a few old faces, catch up with the gossip, share some moans about the ConDem government and their cuts, then share some more moans about all the stuff that's gone wrong with social services or day care or health or the council or best of all, the new neighbours weird behavior or that obnoxious child from up the road. You know the stuff I mean, the important stuff that is really none of your business but certain to take your mind off of caring and benefit cuts!

If you are a carer, have a good Carers Week, make the most of it and spread the word. If you're not a carer then think yourself lucky, spare us a thought and remember that becoming a carer can happen to anybody at any time and it is not something you choose to be it is something you have to be and believe me, you will get precious little thanks or recognition for it. Understanding and a little bit of give and take can go a long way towards making a carers life easier, we're just ordinary people who have to deal with and be responsible for someone else's life as well as our own for as long as it takes.

That's all, I could go on forever about the difficulties but that would be boring for me as well as you! I could also get all sentimental about the joy of giving and the sense of worth and achievement you get from caring, but to be honest, that goes against the grain and would be a load of sentimental twaddle anyway, so if you got this far, well done! Thanks for sticking with it to the end.........


  1. Irene:

    love the new look of the blog with that warm gold and orange trimming.

    Carer's Week is a very important week.

    Good to see that there's a lot of social support and things the carers do for themselves and each other.

    Hooray for the bus pass!