Caring Conundrums

Caring for someone is far from easy. TimeBank’s Carers Together project is here to help.

The responsibility of caring can fall on us quite suddenly. When a close friend has a fall, or a family member suffers a stroke, life can be turned upside down. It can also creep up, as a parent reaches old age or a partner contracts a degenerative condition and makes ever-increasing demands. Loved ones can even hide their needs, not wanting to trouble us.

However it strikes, it will bring difficult choices and unforeseen challenges. Television presenter Fiona Phillips found a home for her mother, who was suffering from dementia. In an article for BBC News Magazine she describes the ‘hardest decision of her life’. When filmmaker Tom Browne’s parents reached old age, he wanted them to change the way they lived their lives. Now he has made Radiator, a very personal movie showing what he feels he should have done.

What’s right for Fiona and Tom may not be right for everyone, but the truth is that caring’s a tough and demanding job. It requires patience, physical strength, financial acumen, medical expertise and excellent communication and negotiating skills. And if you don’t match the person spec? Tough! You can still be handed the job.

Thankfully, help is available. TimeBank’s Carers Together online mentoring project uses a secure website to link experienced carers to those encountering difficulties. Carefully matched mentors provide everything from emotional support and encouragement, to practical advice on benefits, dealing with the NHS and social services, and finding respite. It’s not for everyone – some people just don’t feel comfortable interacting through a computer – but it is available everywhere in England, from the big cities to the most isolated backwaters. And carers can send messages at a time most convenient to them, even if that’s the middle of the night.

If you have caring responsibilities and need a mentor, or if you are an experienced carer able to share your experience with others, please get in touch. Call William on 0121 236 2531 or e-mail carers@timebank.org.uk