‘Did you say something about me becoming a full-time carer?’
Some public sector workers (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc) have been excellent in providing help, whilst I feel I have been failed by many others. I have met a lot of public sector workers who were uninterested and unrealistic. Many of them filled in forms without actually doing anything, made judgements without knowing any facts, and repeatedly assumed I was willing and able to provide support without understanding anything about my life.
I received a phone call from a woman from Halton Borough Council Social Services. I remember the conversation as though it happened yesterday:
‘Are you Valerie Raynor’s son?’
‘Yes, I am.’
‘I am phoning to discuss her care,’ the woman said.
‘OK,’ I replied.
She then said, ‘Right, I will send you a booklet about being a full-time carer and it explains about the carer’s allowance.’
‘Pardon,’ I said, taken aback, ‘did you say something about me becoming a full-time carer?’
‘Yes, you are her next of kin and she needs help, so I will send the booklet about being a full-time carer. What is your address?’
‘I think there has been a mistake here,’ I said. ‘At no point have I ever stated that I was going to become a full-time carer.’
‘Does your mother need care?’ she asked abruptly.
‘Yes, she does, but I have not agreed to provide it,’ I said.
‘Am I right that she is a widow and you are her only child?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘Right, well it is your responsibility so you are going to have to deal with it!’ she said loudly.
‘Excuse me, but I have my own life to lead,’ I told her.
She then said, ‘Oh I see, you are one of those sorts of relatives.’
‘How dare you!’ I said. ‘You have no idea of what I have done for my mother over the years.’
‘Really?’ Her tone was sarcastic.
‘Let me explain the situation to you,’ I said. ‘My father died when I was twelve years old …’
At this point she interrupted me and said, ‘Boo hoo for you.’
‘What!’ I shouted into the phone. ‘How dare you speak to me like that! I have been a young carer since my father’s death when I was twelve.’
‘Well, you have had plenty of practice then,’ she replied.
I then said, ‘I want your name, and your boss’s name and address.’
There was a long pause, after which she said, ‘What do you want that for?’
‘To write a letter about your conduct.’
‘You are the one refusing to be a carer,’ she said defensively.
I replied, ‘There is no one on this planet who has the right to tell me to be a carer. What about my career ambitions? What about getting married and starting a family? How am I meant to do that on carer’s allowance?’
‘Not my problem,’ she said.
I replied with, ‘As I said before, what is your name, and your boss’s name and address?’
She hung up the phone.
I was appalled that someone involved in organising care would speak to an ill person’s relative like that. She knew nothing about Mum’s history, my history or my present life. She thought she could just tell me to become a full-time carer and it would happen. Presumably me becoming a full-time carer would have made her life easier.