"I went from being an office worker to a care assistant overnight. I was so overwhelmed, and I just didn’t know where to turn or what to do. Without the right support it can be a traumatic experience.”
In November 2013 I suddenly found myself the sole carer of my two sick parents. I decided I could no longer balance my caring responsibilities and my full-time job as my father’s health deteriorated rapidly and we knew he didn’t have long left. Then one bank holiday, out of hours, a series of events almost pushed me to breaking point.
When I first started caring for my father at home I soon realised there was no co-ordination between all the different services we were using. I had to co-ordinate people who didn’t know my father’s history, allergies or personality. At one time it seemed there were forty care workers in the house trying to help him just get into bed. Then on the first May bank holiday this year things took a turn for the worse. So many things went wrong at home, I was at my wits end, and didn’t know where to go for help. As things got worse I remembered my GP mentioning a Sue Ryder 24/7 support helpline. Over the next few days this service became by lifeline as I desperately sought advice and support.
The 24/7 support helpline is run from a specialist end of life co-ordination centre at my local Sue Ryder hospice. It was invaluable to me over that weekend. I could call up and get help whenever I needed it. I had to call four times during the night, once because I needed to know how I should move my father in his bed and change his dressings. The nurse on the end of line looked after me as well as my dad, offering me emotional support when the situation became really distressing.
My father passed away in May, though sad, we try and remember the good times. His wish was to die at home, surrounded by his family. This meant that I found myself in the position of being a full time carer for him and for my mum who is also ill. I don’t know where I would have been without the Sue Ryder service. To have somebody who is available day or night to help you make rational decisions, to act as a sounding board or to provide emotional support when you’re having trouble coping is brilliant. It is also something that every carer and person who is dying should be able to access. While my father’s death was no picnic, the service meant that he was able to have a dignified death, in comfortable surroundings.
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