Caring for the carers

The 7-13 June marks the beginning of National Carers Week. We hear how Livability’s work supports families impacted by disability – Chris is a chatty and helpful man who is proud of the fact that he hasn’t let his disabilities stop him living independently.

Supported by Livability East Midlands, Chris manages his home, finances, shopping and cooking. He gets involved in the local community and enjoys playing golf.

That is, until the pandemic’s first lockdown took hold. Chris’ learning disability makes it difficult for him to understand how to keep safe from Covid-19, and long hours on his own are detrimental to his mental health. Talking it over with his family and his Livability support workers, Chris felt the best thing was to stay with his parents for a while. ‘We thought it would just be six weeks at most,’ says Alison Sedgwick, team leader for Livability East Midlands, who has managed Chris’ care throughout the pandemic.

As the weeks went on, Chris began to struggle with anxiety and didn’t cope when he tried to return to his flat. ‘His anxiety was sky-high and getting back into the routine he had there was hard for him,’ says Alison. ‘His parents are elderly and his dad is unwell. They were very happy to have him but it’s not ideal and it wasn’t a permanent solution.’

‘It’s no problem to have Chris here but I was worried about him adjusting back to his flat,’ says Chris’ mum Margaret. ‘Since Chris was 18, people have said to me “you won’t always be here” and it’s not what’s good for Chris, to be here all the time’.

Support worker and person with disabilities baking

Image credit iStock

Alison referred Chris to the NHS Community Team for People with Learning Disabilities ‘who have worked really hard with him’. Along with his Livability support, Chris tackled things he found more difficult in everyday life, including planning and cooking meals. ‘Chris really enjoys cooking and has learned so much in recent months – he used to eat more ready meals but now he often cooks from scratch,’ says Alison.

Chris was progressing but needed more support. ‘This needed extra funding for extra hours of support and his mum would have no idea how to go about getting that, plus she’s already doing a lot for Chris’ dad,’ explains Alison. Alison made a case for Chris to Northampton social services, which resulted in Chris’ case being examined – and an award of extra hours, which doubles the support that Chris receives. ‘It took a lot of persuasion but, I could tell social services that without those extra hours, Chris wouldn’t eat or drink properly, his personal hygiene would suffer and his parents were unable to sustain caring for him indefinitely.’

Now Chris is settling again into his flat, building up from initially spending one night there to staying Monday to Friday, going to his parents at weekends. His Livability support workers visit him twice a day, thanks to the increased hours Alison secured. ‘I was a bit uneasy going shopping and things like that but I’m getting back to normal,’ says Chris. ‘I love cooking and making all sorts like curry and chicken and leek pie. The flat has been decorated and I’ve got a new carpet. ‘Alison’s help has made a lot of difference – I just can’t tell you how much! All the carers do a fantastic job,’ says Margaret.

‘Chris has done so well,’ says Alison. ‘I’m delighted Livability has been able to help him regain independence and to make things manageable for his parents in their caring role, who love and care for him very much but need support too.’

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