‘Sometimes you feel so invisible as a person’: The 100,000 hidden carers of Norfolk
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
As part of an event to highlight the efforts of thousands of unpaid carers in Norfolk, editor David Powles met Jay Page, who spent many years looking after her mother and then husband.
"It is a very hard thing to do. Sometimes you just feel so invisible as a person yourself."
Imagine seeing your mother fall ill with dementia, followed shortly after by your husband of several decades developing Parkinson's disease.
The emotional trauma alone would be considerable.
Then throw in having to work your way through a complicated system to gain the support you need, the financial strain of eventually having to pay for care and possibly having to hold down a job yourself.
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These are exactly the type of challenges that faced Jay Page, from Great Plumstead, who became carer for her husband Colin and for a short period had to look after and arrange care for her elderly mother, who had vascular dementia.
The former nurse said: "After more than 40 years of marriage to see your husband and best friend like that was hard enough, but arranging the support you need can be such a battle.
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"You don't think twice about doing it but it is hard and it is day and night. I didn't have a life but I was just so lucky to have great friends and family and the Women's Institute to give me so much help."
Mrs Page was speaking out as part of an event aimed at sharing awareness of the challenges hidden carers like herself face. It is hoped that if more people understand the pressures, businesses and individuals can be prompted to do even more to support carers through the hardships they face.
On being asked what improvements she'd like to see with regards the support available, Mrs Page added: "The main frustration I had was the lack of continuity of care. There were so many different people and places we had to go to and you have to keep repeating the same information time and time again.
"And while I know now there are many organisations out there who can give you support - sometimes it can be very hard working out how to access them. At times you really feel like you are trying to do it all on your own."
Visit norfolk.gov.uk/care-support-and-health to find out more on the assistance that is out there.
The conversation with a carer formed part of a special event to celebrate and support the thousands of unpaid carers across Norfolk.
There are an estimated 100,000 carers in Norfolk, 6,000 of them believed to be children and young people.
The event, held at The Forum, aimed to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities across Norfolk.
A carer is someone who provides unpaid support and care on a regular basis to a relative or friend who, due to frailty, illness or disability, would not be able to live independently without them.
Carers Matter Norfolk offers a range of services, including a seven day a week advice line offering information, advice, guidance and listening support, one-to-one support in the community, as well as advocacy and support planning which help carers to be better connected to their community and reduce social isolation.
A Think Carers campaign encouraged people to identify themselves as a carer as well as highlighted the issues of hidden carers to businesses across Norfolk, who are urged to do more to offer support.