Caring full time for a relative who is chronically or terminally ill, disabled or suffering from dementia is physically and mentally exhausting. Not only can the caregiver experience effects on their own physical health such as back pain, low resistance to illness and tiredness, they will often suffer from anxiety and depression.
There may be a feeling of grief at witnessing the decline of a loved one and the loss of who they once were. There will be sadness at the realisation that long held hopes and plans for the future will not come to fruition. And there will almost certainly be guilt when the carer longs for time away or becomes irritated at the person they are caring for.
But it’s far too easy for you, the carer to forget your own needs, and to feel as if you should be able to manage on your own. However, by accepting that it will be beneficial to bring in external help, you will actually be in a position to cope for longer, rather than burn out. Your relationship with your loved one will almost certainly improve, and help them retain some dignity and independence. This is particularly important when caring for a spouse.
Some situations may benefit from live-in assistance, in which case the spouse/child/parent of the ill person can care in tandem with the support, whilst allowing for rest, recuperation and time and energy for other commitments. This will inevitably lead to a decrease in levels of stress which is very important in helping to maintain a good atmosphere in the house. People with dementia are particularly sensitive to the emotional state of the people around them.
If you feel you can’t bring in full time care for personal or financial reasons, look at other options. Perhaps someone coming in to cover nights will mean you face daytime caring feeling refreshed. Even support in the mornings/afternoons, at weekends or on just one day a week could make the difference between coping and not coping.
There is often the fear that the person you are caring for will become distressed about new people coming into the home. However, with the right person, they will almost always come to terms with the idea. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that this external help will improve the situation and it will mean the dynamics of your old relationship can resurface, rather than just being about a patient/carer role.
If you’re thinking about employing help, but have confused emotions around it, it’s important that you are able to talk through your feelings with a friend, relative or counsellor. Acknowledge that it’s perfectly acceptable for you to feel low, frustrated, guilty and even angry at times. Think about whether you are setting yourself unrealistic goals and expectations about how much you can do on your own. Remember that not only is it OK for you to have time to relax, pursue hobbies and interests, spend time with other family members and socialise with friends, it’s vital.
Accepting that you may need support is the first difficult step to take. Talking things through with an expert such as Julia Harris will enable you to identify the best way forward and what care package will work best for you.
MBACP Registered and Accredited
17th December 2015
Kalayaan is delighted that James Ewins’ independent review of the Overseas Domestic Worker visa, released today calls for an end to the current system which ties workers to their employers.
The review finds that ‘the existence of a tie to a specific employer and the absence of a universal right to change employer and apply for extensions of the visa are incompatible with the reasonable protection of overseas domestic workers while in the UK.’
This right to change employers is a fundamental protection and the recommendations are an important first step in the protection of migrant domestic workers in the UK. Kalayaan is pleased that the review recommends that the permission to change employer also apply to those migrant domestic workers whose employers are diplomats and that all overseas domestic workers who are to work in diplomatic households are to be employed by the mission rather than individual diplomats.
The review also calls for mandatory group information meetings for all overseas domestic workers who remain in the UK for more than 42 days. Kalayaan welcomes any increase in opportunities for migrant domestic workers to receive information about their rights. We believe that if these meetings are delivered appropriately, in an environment where workers feel safe and genuinely able to disclose abuse, and are given meaningful options, such as changing employer, they can be an important tool in preventing and ending abuse.
Migrant domestic workers who accompany an employer to the UK for employment in their private household have since April 2012 been tied by the immigration rules to their employer. Since this time they have entered the UK on a visa which is valid for a maximum of 6 months and which cannot be extended beyond this time.
The Independent review of the ODW visa was commissioned following commitments made within the Modern Slavery Act. The Government has stated it is their intention to implement the review’s recommendations. As such changes can be made within the immigration rules we hope we will soon be seeing a significant improvement in the situation of migrant domestic workers in the UK who have entered on the ODW visa.
For further information please contact Kate Roberts, Head of Policy, Kalayaankate@kalayaan.org.uk or 020 7243 2942
 ‘We have asked for this review to take place and we look forward to the recommendations. I cannot commit a future Government, but the intention is that whoever is in government—I very much hope it will be the Conservatives—will implement the review’s recommendations’. Karen Bradley MP 17 March 2015 Modern Slavery Bill Debatehttp://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150317/debtext/150317-0001.htm#15031750000002 Column 650 (accessed 15 December 2015)