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Carers Week 2012

June 17, 2012

It’s a really strange place I’m inhabiting at the moment.  Now that my dad has passed away, I’m no longer a carer; and yet  it’s a year tomorrow since Carers Matters first went live! Lots of confluences and coincidences, as it’s also Fathers Day today and this is the first time my dad hasn’t been around.

Anyway, to get to the point, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the time I spent being a carer, both in terms of what it was like and what would’ve helped me.

A thing I really never did was to get support for myself. I’m not sure if this was because I thought I could cope, or maybe I was frightened of what might happen if I did! Factor into this the fact that my dad and I were keen on working things out ourselves without any outside ‘involvement’ and I think you’re getting the picture.

I imagine this is a common situation, as it is not easy asking for help, especially for males it seems. We only got other people/professionals involved when my dad was really struggling with his mobility and required an operation. The point is that if we’d sought help earlier it might have been easier for both of us!

Somehow we have to help people feel ok about seeking help and/or support and, as yet, I’m not sure how many people feel comfortable asking for assistance! Certainly most people I’ve spoken to have said they have only asked for help when they were really struggling with their health, be it emotional, physical or otherwise.

And so, my hope is that we can all work together effectively, as individuals, organisations, communities and as a society to encourage carers to come forward and access the information and support at the beginning of their journey, not nearer the end of it, when people may be exhausted.

I was lucky in so far as my dad’s needs were fairly straightforward and we were able to manage them ourselves, more or less. This also enabled him to enjoy greater independence and provided me with an opportuity to still have a life of my own.

However, for a lot of people they are not so ‘lucky’.  For example, I managed to juggle things during my caring time so I could maintain a life and manage to work part time. For many many people this just isn’t possible, and so we need to ensure services are available for people in this situation are not marginalised and excluded.

Obviously, as a founder of an online project, I am biased towards offering online provision to complement the services and organisations available to assist carers in the ‘real world’. We are developing a project at the moment around this theme of digital inclusion, so keep watching this space for more details as things evolve.

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