Monday, 1 August 2011

Provision For The Less Traditional Carer

Caring as a subject for blogs can be found widely across the internet. The resolve needed to be a carer is something that anyone who has had to engage in it should forever be proud off whoever and in whatever situation that should occur in. However being a less traditional carer, in my case male, under 25, for a partner (opposed to parent, sibling or child) and for someone who developed a condition rather than it being a illness or being something that the person was born with or developed in early life means that the provisions available are somewhat limited even in comparison with other carers. 

Now it should be understood that being a carer in my case is my choice. I could have, in theory anyway, walked away from the situation and let others take control. Others in a similar situations have. I don't think there should be any blame as it happens as taking on something like constant care as is required for my partner means giving up considerable opportunities and resources.  For instance, in my case, it has taken away any chance of employment, removed me from university and not allowed me to enjoy a lot of the experiences that others who I grew up with have. This has the effect unfortunately of  distancing a younger person from their piers who have either have no experience of looking after another or in other cases may be distancing themselves away from such instances. 

However, this does not mean that I don't require some respite, as the constant pressure can become overwhelming. Traditional organised groups locally that mainly consist off middle age woman who I share very few experiences with and culturally far away from are not appropriate. As nice as these people are, and for the most part they are amazingly welcome to all, and if your feeling lonely and in that place in your life as a carer I would highly recommend getting hold off them, they can be found in the most surprising places, these are situations that don't generate the right conditions for someone outside the core group, like in any social network.

In an ideal world, the best thing would be to gather a group of like minded and age appropriate people together however this is a lot easier said than done as the nature of caring and the isolation that is the result does not conjure up mass meetings well. Time restraints and the limitations of respite care further increase the problem as there is simply not enough care professionals to look after severely disabled people for such a like minded group to gather, not without major investment which is unlikely.

With that idea not really stacking up, it would be more appropriate to then look into ways for people to lose themselves for a few hours with people who are like minded in another aspect. For myself and a large group of people in general this aspect is sport where almost any person can talk to another as they all share that single passion. Live sport is especially good as people who were once strangers, from different backgrounds can combine into a group of equals. This feeling is something that can rarely be felt as a carer as you are often morphed into the other persons identity, as something that is required for that other person to function.

Sport has other benefits as well, as the emotions built up over weeks of turmoil can be unleashed in a safe environment around others who feel the same. Stadiums especially have the wonderful opportunity to shout and sing, to lose yourself control when the rest of your existence is reliant on self discipline. For many, it is potentially a place you can call your own, where consideration for another person does not have to be paramount at every turn, even if that is only represented by a plastic seat in the middle of thousands of identical ones. 

The few brief hours that can be taken on the stands can be the life saving respite that keeps a person sane. This improves the quality of life for the carer who in turn can give that little bit more of themselves to have the same effect on the person being cared for.

Sadly, this does not happen enough. There is no provision available for such things from social services nor have any clubs that I have approached, numbering over 30, ever offered any discount rates for carers on respite breaks. Tickets for these events are expensive, especially for the desired effect regular attendance is vital. Caring is not and will never be a well paid, if paid, profession and without some understanding the chance for a community outside the loneliness is lost.

Many clubs are quick to show the possibility of disabled ticketing where carers can go in with there disabled person for a reduced price however this completely misses the point of the exercise in this case, although this should be encouraged as something all clubs no matter what sport. Getting away from the person being cared for is very much part of the respite as much as you might love them, spending every minute of everyday with that person is not good for either party or there relationship. Offering a discounted rate, no different to student rates would often be enough for the situation to be rectified. A small concession on there part, would give them a few more fans in many cases a little more money but in every case, a massive lift to the sound level of each and every stadium!

With the season starting on Saturday, I know exactly where I will be. Sitting in Adams Park, watching my little team, exercising some of my demons and hoping for the ever elusive three points. 

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