Carers Week 2022: My dad
The number of people who are taking on caring responsibilities is growing. Looking after a friend or family member who needs support and care comes with challenges. It can have an impact on all areas of your life from relationships to your own wellbeing.
This Carers Week, Rachel Connelly-Clark, from Corporate Services at NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) shares with us a glimpse of her life as a carer for her father.
Within the last few years, I have become a carer for my elderly father, and this role is one of the most emotionally draining things I have ever done.
Around two years ago, my dad was admitted to hospital and was there for a prolonged period. Beforehand, he lived independently for over 30 years. He was eventually discharged with 24-hour care to last around 12 weeks. This involved arranging equipment in his house so he could continue to live there, including an airflow mattress and other medical equipment. He also had carers visiting around the clock.
Fast forward to the present day, and my dad is still with us thankfully. He is still receiving care, they come four times a day now instead of being there for 24 hours. It is to assist with personal care and other needs. Initially, I thought, ‘this is great, what a relief he is home, on the mend, and back to normal.’ I wish it were as straightforward as that.
Since coming home, he is now bed-bound with increased mental health problems. He has extreme obsessions with hygiene and cleanliness which give him anxiety. He spends a lot of time washing his hands and wipes anything people have touched multiple times. He is specific about where things are placed, and their position only seems logical to him. This can be exhausting, and I remind myself this is his mental health and not him. It has put a huge strain on our relationship, as I have become a carer first and a daughter second, so my visits are very functional. This makes me sad, as I used to meet my dad and have great chats about his love of boxing, his knowledge was second to none. Instead, I am checking he has everything he needs, and that it is in the correct place.
I can receive calls from my dad at any time. For instance, if the carers are late, if it is an unfamiliar carer, or if he has run out of medication. I also receive calls from the carers, to ask questions about his behaviour or if something is not working. It can lead to anxiety about new people not knowing ‘his ways’ or ‘his routine’. My dad is always on my mind.
I love my dad very much, but the rollercoaster of emotions can go from love, to hate, then guilt, sadness, frustration, happiness, and right back to love again. He has full mental capacity and what I constantly hear from people is ‘he knows his own mind does your dad.’ Which I feel is a polite way of saying he is perhaps troublesome. He does know his own mind and long may this continue. As for the times when he is ‘my dad’ again he is brilliant.