What does it mean to be a Carer? The dictionary states that it is ‘the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something’. It also further states that it entails ‘serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk’.
However, one thing these words fail to encapsulate is the hourly, daily and weekly experience of being a full time carer. Seemingly unimportant tasks that many have the healthy luxury of being capable of doing, become insurmountable and intimidating walls of imprisonment and restriction. A Carer breaks down these walls and actively assists in freeing people to do what they otherwise would not be able to achieve.
Indeed, I do not see myself so much as a Carer but actually as a freedom fighter, a physical revolutionary and a social activist. Caring for someone is both a responsible and immeasurable act. Nurturing and attentiveness saves and maintains life.
Nobody has ever directly asked me what is it like to be a carer. My verified twitter bio clearly shows that I am a Carer, which involves isolation and misunderstandings. exhaustion and depression, irritation and frustration. Yes,so many words and yet does this go anywhere near to explain to someone on the outside what it is I do?
What it is truly like to be a Carer (unpaid at that)? I now view the world very differently. I see things from the point of view from the person I care for physically, emotionally and financially. GWR at our local train station failed to include into their budget enough money to upgrade the station access for disability mobility, while building their cash machine car park. The Government changed the law and allowed the destruction of the Independent Living Fund. The Coalition Government Welfare Reform Bill was and is the inquisition of our age. A holocaust hidden in plain view.
Thousands of austerity dead and rising daily. The stripping of basic human rights and the installation of administrative torture measures, purely for corporate profit. The new populist business model death machine. The final threads of human decency are now being crushed by killing more elderly people, via the very British fetish of consultation and the cutting and gutting of the social care budgets. Death by consultation. Debt or die
Without the NHS I wouldn’t be typing these words right now. They would remain untyped. A deadly childhood illness would have stopped my life then and there. Caring from an individual is very important, since it saves billions in taxation (those that still actually pay tax and do not avoid it through convenient tax loop hole products) In my immediate environs I can recall over the last few years assisting seven to eight different people on numerous occasions. Sometimes on a critical life saving level, sometimes only to re-tune a digital TV or maybe even read the instructions to someone on a ready meal.
To be honest I have lost count of the times I have stepped in and made a life-saving move. This is on top of caring for my parent 24/7. However, I view this extra caring as ‘volunteer work’ which is allowed under the current carer rules of up to 16 hours per week. I am very grateful to care for my parent. Looking back at the times they saved my life as a child, I feel that it is the very least I can do to return the supreme selfless kindness they have given towards me. Selflessness is a choice. Compassion is a choice. My grandmother had a saying that she used to say to those that said that they ‘didn’t care’ about something. I will recall them now for you. Maybe we can all take something from her words; “Don’t care? Made to care!”