Yesterday was National Carers Day and BBC Radio Shropshire marked it with features throughout the day.
One of the features was about an announcement of a new scheme for elderly carers. More money and support is to be given to elderly carers who need their partners to have respite care. This annoyed me.
My father-in-law has a rare degenerative disease called superficial siderosis. As of 2006, there were only 270 reported cases of superficial siderosis and nobody knows what the long term prognosis is other than it won’t get any better.
So how does it feel to be a carer for someone who is disabled, has to be pushed around outside in a wheelchair, is deaf, has no short-term memory and doesn’t feel pain? My mother-in-law is my father-in-law’s full time carer and it’s pretty damn stressful, not to mention tiring.
My father-in-law used to get respite care in Telford but the care home decided – understandably – that they would rather rent out the only room they had for middle aged disabled people to the council for OAPs for £600 a week rather than leave it empty for 3 weeks a month. But as this was the only room of its kind in the borough (population 160,000) this means that my father-in-law now has to go to Oswestry, on the Welsh border, for respite.
Telford & Wrekin Council isn’t entirely to blame but they certainly aren’t blameless. They haven’t invested in respite care for middle aged people but it wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t for bloody stupid British government regulations that insist on care homes in England segregating their buildings based on age groups.
My father-in-law was, until recently, taken to the gym for an hour and a half every week by the council’s Social Inclusion Team. But a few weeks ago they decided that they wanted paying £38 every time they took him. They can’t afford it so the council offered to do it for £17 a time. They still can’t afford it (their household income consists of disability living allowance, carers allowance and a wage for a few hours of work that my mother-in-law does) so they won’t take him.
He goes to a day care centre for a few hours a couple of days a week where they do group activities – it’s the only chance he gets to socialise with people outside of the familiy. It costs £9.50 each time he goes but it’s been capped by the British government for years. The cap is being lifted next year so the price will be going up to an unknown amount. People who pay privately to go to the day care centre pay £26 a time – if it goes up to £26 he won’t be able to go there either.
If you are young or past pensionable age there are plenty of services available. I don’t imagine there are enough services to satisfy everybody’s needs but the services available to middle aged people are so sparse that they might as well not exist.
Me and the mother-in-law were interview by BBC Radio Shropshire about it yesterday and it was on the radio this morning. Click here to get the Eric Smith show on the iPlayer. Skip forward to 06:40 to hear the mother-in-law talking to the reporter and 59:44 for my comments in the news.