Clare lives in Norfolk with her husband David and their two children. Both Clare and David are self-employed but like many families they juggle working with supporting and caring for relatives.
David’s parents look after his sister who has complex health needs. They decided to move to Norfolk a few years ago to be closer to Clare and David, on whom they rely on for support.
Over the past twelve months, David’s sister’s condition deteriorated and in September she became seriously ill and nearly died. She survived multiple operations and a long spell in hospital to finally move back home to her parents.
Due to lasting complications, David’s sister now needed a much higher level of care and support from her parents. However the stress of the previous few months and increasing strain on her parents had finally became too much. The family had reached crisis point.
Clare stepped in to get help on their behalf but despite her determination and persistence, she was unable to find a solution:
“I was being batted constantly between the GP, the Crisis Intervention team and social services. No one felt it was their place to help. I kept saying these crises could be fatal at any moment but nobody felt it was their responsibility. We were between a rock and a hard place.”
Eventually the family paid privately for respite at a cost of more than a thousand pounds a week and it was shortly after this that Clare was recommended Norfolk Family Carers by an uncle.
“I emailed the contact form on the website and within an hour, Julie, the Family Care Adviser, had called me back. I actually felt the stress lift off my shoulders. She took us seriously. She was professional. She arranged to come and meet us at my inlaws’ house – the first time all five of us had actually sat down in a room together and talked about the situation. Julie had clearly done her research and showed she really understood the very complicated disorder which my sister-in-law suffers from. She handled an incredibly delicate situation with sensitivity.”
As a carer herself, Julie knows all too well about the challenges and rewards of caring but also the impact it can have on relationships.
“She walked in, she knew who everybody was. She listened. She was just brilliant. She made everything seem so simple and helped us to understand what options might be available. Her report came through two days later – we could all see what we needed to do. “
“It felt like we finally had clarity. For someone external to come in and pick through the emotions of a very difficult situation and help us find a way forward was absolutely invaluable. I think we’d have drowned as a family without it.”
Thanks to Julie’s input and suggestions, the family now have several plans in place which will make a real difference to their lives, however Clare says she wishes she’d found out about the service before Christmas:
“If I, as someone who is competent, confident and strong-willed couldn’t get the help we needed from social care in our time of need – how will others who are less confident manage? I find that very scary for other people.”
Norfolk Family Carers offers free advice and information to anyone who is looking after a friend or family member. Clare received in-depth family support which is now fee-based, following the charity’s loss of council funding last year. All profits from our fee-based services are reinvested back into our charitable work, helping us to improve the lives of local family carers.
We have changed some of the names in this story to ensure privacy and anonymity for our client.