Caring for carers during lockdown

24 June 2020

Alex and J-J with shopping provided by charity Crossroads Care

Nick, 52, is a retired policeman and the main carer for his two sons Alex and J-J, who are both diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, Autism and ADHD.

J-J, 24, is relatively independent and enjoys going to the gym and boxing classes. Alex, 22, is deeply shy and needs more support to build his independence and confidence to talk to people he doesn’t know. Alex and J-J adore football. They play for the local football club, Woking Wolves, which Nick set up for children with disabilities. They’re also huge Chelsea FC fans and, before lockdown, would regularly go to see them play at home and away.

Support, friendship and kindness

Crossroads Care have been supporting the family for several years, most recently through visits from Collette, a Carer Support Worker who visits the home to care for Alex. This gives Nick a well-earned break and an opportunity to catch up on chores, link up with healthcare professionals and arrange sporting activities for his sons.

Being a carer is exhausting and Nick fully appreciates the breaks he gets from Crossroads. “Collette has been invaluable in supporting my children,” says Nick. “Her approach, manner and interaction have meant the boys not only trust and enjoy her company, but are truly engaged and happy too, giving me time to concentrate fully on tasks for the family. Her support, friendship and kindness have been invaluable to us.”

Nick had exciting plans to renovate the family home soon after he retired. Sadly though, Nick recently injured his knee while working on his home. With social distancing in place, he had a video consultation with a doctor who said he urgently needed knee surgery. However, because of coronavirus, he was told he’d have to wait for an operation. Two weeks later, Nick was rushed to hospital. He had sepsis and nearly lost his leg.

Helping Nick’s family through the pandemic

Two days after his operation, Nick was sent home. Vulnerable and at-risk of coronavirus following major surgery, he was told to self-isolate. With no access to online services, Collette helped the family out by picking up shopping for them and collecting prescriptions. The shopping support has been a godsend for the family.

When lockdown restrictions eased, Collette was able to visit the family home again to give Nick a respite break. She was met with a massive welcome: “We’ve really missed you!”, they all said. The boy’s laughed at Collette’s face mask, but were quite relaxed about everything. Nick said they were just happy to have her back.

With Collette’s support, J-J and Alex have now grown into independent young men, caring for their father while he recovers from surgery. They’ve learnt to help out by doing some cooking, making their own breakfast and making hot drinks for their dad. They’ve even been helping him with cleaning, chores and some decorating around the home.

Supporting carers through lockdown

Since the end of March, Crossroads Care Surrey have helped more than 1,000 unpaid carers living in Surrey by making regular phone calls, checking in on their health and wellbeing, as well as picking up food shops and prescriptions. In that time, Crossroads have made more than 3,000 telephone calls to support unpaid carers.

In the UK today, two in every three people will become an unpaid carer in their lifetime, caring for friends and family without question. Many unpaid carers wouldn’t even consider themselves a ‘carer’; but rather someone who is a mother, son, daughter, sister, brother, father etc. When we love, we care.

Making carers visible

Right now, Crossroads is supporting families with care services in the home and community, as well as providing emotional support through telephone befriending.

Please consider supporting those who care, especially at this very difficult time when so many unpaid carers are simply not able to get the right care support they need.

A small gift from you will help more unpaid carers get the support they need. Just £5 will pay for petrol for a shopping or prescription collection trip, while £20 can give an hour of care support to a person with care needs and provide respite for an unpaid carer.

Crossroads Care Surrey Covid-19 Appeal

Please visit crossroadscaresurrey.org.uk/coronavirus-appeal and support Crossroads’ Covid-19 Appeal to help ensure those who care are not forgotten.