IN THE second part of a series of features over the coming weeks to highlight the work of Carers Careline, Connie Osborne spoke to two unpaid carers who devote their lives to helping their loved ones.
Ann’s life as a carer began nine years ago when her husband slipped a disc in his back which eventually caused damage to his spine.
John, who is just 60, also had a stroke last year and was diagnosed with a brain tumour which affects his balance.
He is unable to drive, cannot stand for long periods of time, and Ann now dedicates her life to her husband of 33 years.
But the borough resident confessed she never saw herself as a carer until she was signposted to Carers Careline.
“To me I was just looking after my husband. I was struggling at one point and went to my doctor and that was where I was told about Carers Careline,“ she said.
“They made me realise I am a carer despite being married to him, I still have to care for him.”
The 55-year-old spends 24 hours of her day helping her husband with tasks such as showering, moving, and mainly has to make sure he does not injure himself in anyway.
“If he is having a good day I can nip out for a bit of shopping and my sons will look after him on their days off to give me a break, but otherwise I spend 24 hours looking after him.”
“The hardest part is not having time to yourself, and I know he feels so guilty he can’t look after the family but I know if it was the other way round he would care for me.
“I haven’t got close family living nearby, so apart from sons, I’m pretty much on my own.”
She said Carers Careline was a ‘life saver’, not only offering her the chance to have counselling sessions, but also providing someone to talk to.
“They just have a little chat with me and cheer me up, it is something as simple as that. Just knowing they are there to listen, have a laugh with and talk to does make all the difference.”
Help with her banking as well as a stroke awareness course also helped Ann face what could have been very daunting tasks.
“I would have been lost without them, they help in so many ways you wouldn’t even think about before something like this happens.
“If I can help make other people aware of what they do, and how much people like myself rely on them, then that’s my first step to repaying them for all their wonderful support.”
ETHEL’S life as a carer began after giving birth to her daughter Bethany in 1998.
In just 24 hours her new born baby had gone floppy and was not feeding properly.
By about seven months it was plain that something was wrong with Bethany.
Although they still wait for a definitive diagnosis, Bethany, now a teenager, suffers from severe speech difficulties, with signs of austism and complications such as Raynaud’s disease.
And, as Ethel explains, it is not just her life which has changed because of caring for the 16-year-old.
“So many times through the years my work life and social life has been based around Bethany’s needs.” she said.
“It has a direct impact on the family, my children and my husband as they care for her too.
“The children’s school work, when they could have friends round, when they could go out all had to fit round Bethany.
“For Dave and I to go out for the evening, we need to have care in place for her.”
The family were told about Carers Careline through Worcestershire’s Carers Association, and Ethel said she cannot praise the service enough.
“It is just that person there on the end of a phone to have that chat with and say you’re fed up. It is vital.”
Carer Ethel Coleman looks after her daughter Bethany. Photo by Marcus Mingins 1115036MMR2