The carer council has been created to ensure the voice of carers is heard throughout the work of Caring Together, and further afield. Whatever your role in looking after a family member or friend, we want to hear from you. Caring Together believe that you, as carers, are the experts when it comes to issues affecting you and those you care for.
Ian Hitch is one of our council members. Here he explains a bit more about his role as a carer and as a member of carer council.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your caring role?
I was a Civil Servant for 42 years before taking early retirement in 2017. In 2018 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer which had spread into my bones.
I have cared for my mum since 2016 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after a hospital stay. Addenbrooke’s were very good in dealing with most issues they found but referred her to her GP regarding the memory issues. Eventually a diagnosis was made, and things started to happen. I had contact from the Older Persons Team, Mental Health Team and the Alzheimer’s Society. It was the latter that put me in touch with the Carers Trust (later renamed to Caring Together) who made contact with me.
Since then, mum and I have been regular attendees at the monthly local hub meetings. These meetings give me the opportunity to chat to other carers, learn from the guest speakers and take part in activities with my mum.
During the recent lockdown the hub meetings were held on Zoom and I soon found myself being quiz master for a short general knowledge quiz. I also met carers from other hubs and have attended afternoon tea and other events at various locations.
Mum currently attends day centre once a week which gives me time to catch up with friends. She has a pivotel tablet dispensing machine which spits her tablets out at the correct times and my brother, who lives 150 miles away, will look after mum when I go away. The Fire Service visit every few years to check over the property, give advice and supply smoke alarms.
From your experience, what do you think are the biggest issues faced by carers?
Getting my mum’s GP to listen. Initially they never listened to me until I got really firm with them. I just felt I was being fobbed off all the time.
Where to find information. There is a lot of information out there from various sources but it is difficult to sort out the grain from the chaff.
Where to get help from. There are many organisations out there and it is hard to know what they all do.
Why have you chosen to be involved in Caring Together’s carer council?
I felt like I wanted to give something back to Caring Together as they have been so good to myself and my mum.
I volunteered to take part in a series of workshops with various parts of the organisation under the title of Carer Voice & Involvement. Having been part of the initial discussions I just had to be involved with the carer council which is what emerged from the workshops.
The caring role can throw up many different issues and follow various routes.
Each carer will probably have experienced something peculiar to their situation and found a way to resolve it.
Sharing this information with Caring Together should help current and future carers. The more experiences and views that are shared the better.
The council needs more people with a caring background to enable this to happen.
Find out more about how you can give your views
There are a range of ways that you can get involved which you can choose to suit your situation and what you want to do.