Unpaid carers ‘fear they’re forgotten’ in coronavirus crisis

Helena Kelman from Motherwell among those who have taken decision to look after vulnerable people without help.

Unpaid carers fear they’re being forgotten about as many adjust to life looking after more vulnerable people alone and without help from others.

Helena Kelman from Motherwell looks after her 28-year-old daughter Lisa, who has cerebral palsy.

She took the difficult decision to stop carers coming in – to protect her daughter from coronavirus.

Helena is “managing to cope” for now, but she’s concerned about the long term.

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She said: “I just keep taking everything one day at a time, thinking just get through each day.

“I do have back problems at times. At the moment, touch wood, my back is fine but just the continual manoeuvering and moving and handling that then obviously that can take its toll but there’s nothing else we can do.

“Mentally just being inside and not being able to do anything else is really really difficult,” she added.

Helena has been finding it difficult to explain to Lisa why she can’t go outside and can’t go to the activities and exercise classes she would usually take part in.

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She said: “A lot of her anxieties have increased, which is harder to deal with because you’re trying to be patient.

“That is more difficult actually trying to deal with that and trying to keep your own patience as well knowing that you don’t know the answers – trying to be realistic.”

Fiona Collie from Carers Scotland says information about the virus and what to expect in terms of care workers coming in is “critical” to help unpaid carers.

She said: “We’ve all heard the ‘wash your hands for 20 seconds’ but these things are so important, anyone coming into your house that they wash their hands, that they have the right equipment but they also that they have the right supplies.

“I know that we’ve heard from carers that they’re having difficulty accessing the things they need for personal care so that can be things like gloves, hand wash, incontinence pads, disinfectant.

“More information is important but also emotional support, putting carers in contact with other people.

“Carers centres are all still working – they’re working remotely – but enabling people to have a number, here’s somebody you can phone to have a chat with,” she added.

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Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick says the Scottish Government “values the support” by unpaid carers.

He said: “We are working alongside partner organisations to ensure carers can access the right advice to help protect them and their loved ones.

“We recognise that there are many unpaid carers who are providing care and support to friends and family members in the vulnerable groups and therefore may need PPE.

“We would like to reassure those working in the sector that we are working with NHS National Services Scotland to quickly put in place a system to support unpaid carers to access PPE if they need it.”


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