career

Guest post: “I’ve lost £100,000 in earnings in two years of caring” – and ‘Outraged’ has also lost her life..

Outraged writes:  “My life before caring was bliss.  I worked in Ireland, in the public sector and was outraged at the austerity measures being imposed on public sector workers.

I didn’t know I was born.

I moved back to the UK two years ago when my mum was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  She had worked fulltime but was also a carer for my sister who has cerebral palsy.   I now look after both of them as they are very physically disabled and thus very physically dependent.

The support family carers can get from the state is abysmal. It is also means-tested.  I am expected to fund respite care top-ups on a carer’s allowance.  Bear in mind the allowance is £61 per week regardless of how many people you care for, and tops-up range from £50-£200+ per week.

I cannot work – no employer wants someone who can’t be flexible, who has to leave work regularly or can’t stay back because of myriad hospital appointments, blocked catheters, toilet calls, or most frequently of all – to pick up the personal care tasks that care agencies won’t do…or more usually don’t do safely.  I have to supervise carers, or  else they would mobilise my mum unsafely -sinks are washing aids, not standing aids!  -they don’t change their gloves (they don’t pay for this PPE unlike me) – I’ve stopped carers from taking stuff from my fridge because they had my sister’s faeces on their gloves; -they leave our front door ajar ALL THE TIME.

The state pays £400/week to these agencies for providing 33.25 hours of care.  I get £61/week Carers Allowance for 118 hours.

The red tape is endless… disability allowance, carers allowance, personal independence payments contracts, housing benefit, means tested assessments for housing support services, care in the community services, pensions credit, support with health costs, carers leave application to my employer. These are reviewed annually.

On a daily basis I am to my carees:-  *  Nurse,  *  physio, *  PA, *  secretary, *  social services advocate, *  chef, *  cleaner, *  chauffeur, *  personal shopper, *  limb-mover,*   pharmacist, *  debt manager, *  banker.  I feel like I do so much more, I am that tired.

I’ve lost circa £100,000 in earnings in two years of caring.  For this the state offers me £60/week.  No pension, no sick pay, no holidays and if my carees go into hospital or respite care then I lose that £60 too.

My work and friends are in Ireland, my partner is in Ireland, my home is in Ireland but I’m here.  I’m only 34, I want to have kids, I want my life back.  But that will only happen when they die, and then it’ll be too late.

3 in 5 of us will be carers at some point in our lives, and that figure will likely grow as life expectancy exceeds life quality.

I say to all you non-carers who happen to be reading:  enjoy your life whilst you have it, the state will not permit you a life as a carer.In fact, if it could means-test my nostalgia it probably would.

Carer With Attitude says:

If you are altruistic and want look after those you love, and save the NHS and Social Care departments  from having to pay the going hourly rate for paid care (in this case £12 for every daylight hour), should the state really expect you to  give up your life, your career, your future, your family,  as well?

Seems so.

Yet MPs (every single one of whom have failed to help the family carers they all represent)  tell us they are being altruistic to live on that teeny weeny little £67k  they get  as basic salary (plus generous expenses to cover the costs of running an office.. staff..somewhere to live..ok several places to live.. travelling ..silk cushions.. duck houses… moats.. moles…You know how it goes) And they seem to be allowed extraordinary licence in their expenses claims. AND many get seeming immunity from prosecution, censure or  dismissal when they go beyond licence to downright fraud.  

Iain Duncan Smith thinks that  £61 a week Carers Allowance is generous recompense for Outraged’s  altruism and hard work. He also thinks £39 is a reasonable amount for himself to try and claim for a single breakfast* to line his lardy, smug and self-entitled tum.  Think about that for a moment.

I wonder how many years Outraged has spent getting qualified?  WIkipedia points up Duncan Smith’s qualifications as pitifully thin when the truth was told.   Wouldn’t the world run better if  the Ian Duncan Smith  ‘learned on the job’ for a while, as fulltime carer discovering for himself the realities of working round the clock without acknowledgement or comfort whilst trying to survive on £60 a week?  Thus allowing Outraged to fulfil her considerable potential through the career and life she would like to lead?    Answers please!

The next Carers Virtual Strike will be on 21 November 2014.

*his claim was submitted – but, thank goodness, not accepted.

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OK, it’s a Carers’ manifesto. And why not?

DSCF4087 (631x800)It was pointed out to me today that  in this blog I have, in effect , written a Carers’ Manifesto. So I had a look at it, and – bigod – it is!  It’s a real live Carers’ Manifesto!

(But why not? Its also very sensible.)

There is no way that the state can compensate us carers for the sheer amount of time we  give up voluntarily – nor should you have to. We do it for love, or duty, or common humanity. And often a combination of all three.

But you can prevent our caring duties from wrecking our lives, our careers, our futures and making us an unwilling burden on the state when our caring work is over.  Not as a matter of justice – though it would be just. But to ensure the country designs a robust response to the caring crisis that is coming upon us.

And so I’m making no apology for repeating as Manifesto points, the five demands that we fulltime family carers want.  (No, need.) They are modest, affordable and practical.  And they are not extravagances; they are necessities. Me, I’m still surprised that you (and by that I mean all of you, not just those who run, or used to run the country) should care so little that carers  have done without these necessities for so long.

We are not invisible – nor should we be so inaudible.  It’s up to you to open your eyes and ears.

Proposal One: That we award Carers Allowance to all live-in carers, irrespective of age, income or employmentjust as DLA/PIP is given to those they care for.

Why? This would not only recognise (in part) the range and responsibilities of work carers do, it would mean many carers who can fit in a little work around their caring responsibilities would be able to do so without the fear of losing this support. (And as paid work brings in tax revenue, the state may well find it is compensated for some – maybe a lot – of this outlay.)

Proposal Two: The state pays into an occupational pension scheme for each fulltime carer to reflect what they might expect to have put in if they were working , say, an 80 hours a week at minimum wage. 

Why? This would give end-of-life value to all those years in which carers worked hard full-time (the expression is meant literally) for someone else’s benefit. Pragmatically, it would also be likely save the state pension benefit top-ups to the carer at end of life.

Proposal ThreeEstablish solid practical careers advice and training to help carers train for and sustain appropriate work within their environment (bearing in mind all the work that could be done this way if the will were there: teleworking, local working, working that can be supported around care needs).

Why? This would maintain skills, support a career, restore confidence and provide longterm independence for the carer. This is not just about fairness, though it is. Its about economic commonsense.

Proposal FourTake social housing back from the sem-autonomous situation it now occupies and ENSURE that it recognises the requirements of disability and caring in the allocation of rooms. When doing so the state must alsoENSURE that sufficient appropriate accommodation is purpose-built for the disabilities of the local population.

Why? This would mean that carers are not further worried by the constraints and logistics of, say, caring for tetraplegia in a first floor unmodified flat. If you fail to support the people with disabilities in this way, much of the additional stress is also felt by those who care for them.

Proposal Five: Finally, when allocating money to support carers, the state must ensure that money is ONLY given to organisations that offer properly targeted transport-accessible help that is fit for purpose  to everyone who needs it. It doesn’t seem a big ask  – but look around and see how many organisations do this. Stop regionalising carers or subdividing them into disease-specific tranches.

Why? You may not be intending to divide and rule, but that is what you’re doing. And you end up with organisations that are increasingly remote from the people they exist to support.

Who wins? Everyone!

Carers win, because they don’t feel shafted by fate and apathy and can see that their life prospects are valued and being protected

The cared for person wins. How guilty and how annoyed wouldyou feel to recognise that state policy is ensuring your condition may be assisting in the inexorable decline of your loved one’s life?

The state wins. It puts in an insignificant outlay and targets other resources better. In return it gets a more employable, less dependent population with greater chances of a productive outcome.

Best of all,it avoids the current shocking waste of a large chunk of the human capital of this nation. 

Carers, sign up to the Carers Virtual Strike. Without harming the person you care for, you can make politicians aware of what it actually costs to care. Not a carer? Show solidarity by adding your name to our supporters page and let us know that you care that we’re careworn

Value for money – carers versus bankers

ImageToday we heard that Barclays staff bonuses (er “incentive awards”) amounted to £2.38 billion this year. That’s right. I’ll spell it out: £2,380,000,000. That’s a helluva lot of noughts.

We are told that these kind of sums are a necessary addition to the bankers’ very generous salaries because – y’know – y’all just gotta pay competitive rates in order to get the best ..yada yada yada.

Yawn.

No. Wait! I’m going with this one – aren’t you, fellow carers?

The bankers tell us that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

And if you pay monkeys what carers get, you get starving monkeys.

Now, I feel that my daughter deserves the very best of care round the clock. How can she get it from a carer who is paid £0 per hour? Surely she would get increasingly better care if her carer were paid £10, £100 or £1000 an hour?

1.4m UK carers are working around the clock, 7 days a week. That’s 168 hours a week.  And if you want to replace a single one, at agency rates (£15 per hour – to the agency, that is, not to the paid carer they often exploit), it would cost £131,400 for a year.

A lot of money? Yet you could pay for 36,225 family carers to work half-time – a mere 84 hour week – and do something to realise their own potential  for the very same sum that Barclays is bestowing on the arrogant ignorant greedy separatists they employ. On TOP of their pay, sick pay, holiday pay, expenses and pension pot.

Crikey, that bonus pot would even pay a lifgechanging Citizens Wage to 76,450 totally unpaid carers. Just sayin’.

Are you honestly going to tell me these bankers are doing a better – or more worthwhile – job? Last time I heard, no carer has ever been near to  bringing down western capitalism.

Sign up to our Carers Virtual Strike and show the cost of care http://www.caretostrike.co.uk/ (Not a carer yourself?  sign our new supporters’ page  – and show us that you care that we are careworn!)