The term carer refers to an individual who actively looks after a person who is physically unable to care for themselves. The person being cared for may be a relative, neighbour or a friend. There are many reasons that a person may no longer be able to care for themselves such as through illness, a disability or simply because of their age. This however does not include people who work in care settings such as nursing homes, as these individuals are often referred to as care workers or care professionals. (The OU: 2010 page 12)
Throughout this essay I am going to outline some of the many difficulties and rewards that carers face on a daily basis, many of which are over looked and hidden from the outside world. I will draw upon the information that I have discovered in unit 1 and discuss the views and opinions expressed by Ann walker in the case study of Ann and Angus.
During this unit we were introduced to the family of Ann Walker. Ann is a 37 year old woman who cares for her elderly step father, Angus, who has Parkinson’s disease. Angus is unable to look after himself, therefore relies on the help of his step daughter for him to be able to manage his day to day life. Without Ann he would be unable to complete the many tasks that day to day living involves. Ann is a wife to her husband Bob and a mum to her 12 year old daughter Zoe.
Many people who provide care to a family member do not see themselves as carers. This is because many believe that they have some what of a duty to their family to provide care when it becomes needed. Although many people who provide care do not refer to themselves primarily as carers, it was found that in the 2001 census, 12% of the adult population provide care to a family member. (The OU, 2010, page 38) This was the case with Ann Walker as she explained that she saw herself first and foremost as a wife, mother and dutiful daughter. (The OU, 2010, page 15) For an individual identifying themselves as a carer can be difficult to do.
There are many difficulties that caring for a family member can involve, although many family carers will not admit it, caring for a family member can be hard work. As the carer you have to be available to meet the needs of the person who is being cared for 24 hours a day, as the person being cared for can often not be left alone for long periods of time. Being a carer can involve many jobs that can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Many caring duties will involve jobs such as cleaning, washing, feeding, helping the person to be mobile and helping them to get dressed and use the toilet. In Ann’s caring role, she has to help Angus up and down the stairs which is a strenuous job for her, as she has to hold Angus weight by herself. There was an incident where Angus falls down the stairs and Angus says to Ann “You made me fall! Why, why did you not hold me up? (The OU 2011) This will also put emotional pressure on Ann as she will be frightened that if anything was the happen to Angus then she would be to blame. The person, who is being cared for, may expect a lot of their carer and may not show them a lot of gratitude in return. This may also be emotionally tough on the carer as they may feel as though they are not doing a good enough job.
Trying to juggle family life can also be extremely difficult when caring for a family member. Trying to find the time to spend with family members can prove impossible when the person needing care requires around the clock attention. Finding the energy to engage in activities with family members can be more or less unattainable after a long day of caring. Ann’s husband Bob had prepared an anniversary dinner for himself and Ann to spend some quality time together on their anniversary but the dinner was ruined when Angus kept shouting for Ann’s attention. This puts pressure on her relationship with her husband as Bob becomes increasingly