Lorry driver Graham Moran, 59, was making his way to Hull when he had a cardiac arrest in the middle lane of the M62.
This led to a hypoxic brain injury that would change not only his life, but his wife Lynne's life, forever.
"I didn’t choose to be a carer, caring chose me," she said. "I had no option but to quit my job as an office administrator to look after the one person I knew would look after me if the tables were turned, my husband Graham."
Lynne Moran, 52, has created her own carer's job description to explain the challenges unqualified carers face and the lack of support they receive.
Carer vacancy. Unpaid. Full time. No experience required.
Pharmacist. Must give the correct medication at the correct times of day as prescribed by GP.
Appointment secretary. Must ensure all appointments are diarised and kept up to date.
Accountant. Must successfully budget a severely reduced household income due to the loss of two salaries.
Personal hygienist. Must help with any bathing and/or toileting needs using manual handling techniques and/or lifting aids.
Dietician. Must ensure a healthy diet is maintained incorporating all food groups and portion control when all your partner recognises is ice cream and fruit juice.
Physiotherapist. Must make sure the brain injury survivor takes part in exercise to improve dexterity and counteract any physical defects due to brain injury.
Occupational therapist. Must try to teach skills which have been lost due to brain injury and boost self-esteem and self-worth.
Cleaner. Must do extra cleaning and laundry above the norm due to ‘accidents’.
AT LAST A JOB I’M QUALIFIED FOR!
I can work up to 70 hours a week over seven days. Some carers work more hours than that. Each week I am paid £64.60 Carer's Allowance, which means I earn £0.92 per hour.
If I worked 70 hours a week in a care home at the basic NVQ level I would receive £548 before tax & national insurance deductions. That comes to £7.83 per hour.
But wait a minute ……
The working time directive states that 48 hours is the maximum I can work so a second carer would be required for the remaining 22 hours.
Ahhh but then …..
During the working day a 20 minute break from the workplace is required during a six hour period.
Carer number one has eight x 20 minute breaks a week and carer number two has two breaks. That's three and a half hours break in total for two carers and that’s just the legal requirements.
Oh and don't forget
Then there are the rest periods. An adult worker MUST have a rest period of no less than 11 hours between shifts and uninterrupted 24 hours rest in a seven day period. Do I now need 3 carers for the week???
All I know is that carers of loved ones are not paid their legal worth and do not get legal breaks.
If carers were working in mainstream employment they would have the support of managers, trained nursing staff and senior care assistants.
If a professional employed in the care industry becomes ill, they are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay worth £92.05 a week. But a carer does not receive sick pay. Carers often ignore their own health needs so they can concentrate on their loved ones.
The support of Headway
Attending Headway Lancaster and Morecambe Bay has opened my eyes to the complex issues around brain injury. My Headway friends have taught me it is OK to slow down occasionally. I feel I can openly talk with other carers of brain injury survivors and off-load my feelings of guilt without being judged.
The Headway group gave me friends when my former work colleagues abandoned me. Just sitting and having a brew and a laugh is something precious to me – I hadn’t laughed much in the months before joining Headway, I cried a lot but never laughed.
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