Carers UK: Joy's story

24 February 2021

Joy and her mother-in-law, Maureen

Based in Suffolk, Joy Body juggles three caring roles for her daughter, mother and mother-in-law.

I’ve been a carer for much of my life. I’ve cared for my daughter, who is autistic and has depression, for 15 years, and also my mother, who needs a wheelchair. Mum is in her late 70s and still very independent and lives nearby in her own home with support from a care worker. For the last three years I’ve also been supporting my mother-in-law, Maureen, who is in her late 80s and has mixed dementia. She is living in a local care home.

Normally I would visit Maureen several times a week to keep her company and take her out for walks, while sorting out paperwork and food shopping for Mum; then also providing my daughter, who still lives at home, with both practical and emotional support.

On top of my caring roles I work part-time for our county council, and am grateful to the team there for supporting me. Caring has definitely impacted on my career and in the past I’ve had to make decisions to reduce my hours in order to better manage as a carer.

Caring during the pandemic has been a challenge. Maureen’s physical and mental health has deteriorated and both of us have struggled doing window visits and communicating with masks on. My mum has been shielding in her own home so I’ve tried to keep supporting her while keeping her as safe as possible.

Keeping connected during the pandemic has been very difficult. We’d never even heard of things like Zoom and when we did try to use it found that my webcam didn’t work!  It’s been hard not being able to just pop in to see our other two children or take a bit of time out to have a hot chocolate with a friend. It’s only when those things are missing that I realised how important those connections with others can be as a carer. It could be that you need to off-load about a difficult situation, or ask advice about something that needs to be done. Equally important are those hot chocolate moments, to just be yourself and talk about everything else.

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