Stoke Newington unpaid carer on the importance of a virtual cuppa during the coronavirus lockdown
- Credit: Mark A Phillips 2018
A Stoke Newington unpaid carer has been meeting up with other carers over a virtual daily cuppa. He spoke to Holly Chant about the benefits of chatting to people all over the country who care and some of the challenges they face during the coronavirus crisis.
Stephen Adams has looked after his wife since 1976 when they got married. She suffers from schizophrenia and dementia.
He told the Gazette: “In the last six years she’s got Alzheimer’s and it’s steadily got worse and now she’s in a care home. So I have to look after her finances and sort out all the other stuff that she can’t cope with.”
Before the lockdown he would go to three meet ups a week and, through services like Singing for the Brain provided by the Alzheimer’s Society, he met other carers.
The 68 year-old told the Gazette: “People helped me out when I didn’t know what to do or where to go and I’m doing the same for them now.”
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Stephen says the online cuppas are good fun and enable unpaid carers from all over the UK to support each other, share tips and compare the support they receive from local authorities.
“We’ve gone through it all already so there’s a lot of similarities between people’s caring situations and what you can do about it,” he said.
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The virtual meet-ups are organised by a recently launched online platform called Mobilise. It enables unpaid carers to meet, talk and access advice and resources to help them cope.
There were just six people when Stephen joined mobilise’s virtual cuppa and now there are 500.
A Carers UK report from 2019 suggests there could be as many as 8.8 million adult carers in the UK and it estimates unpaid care saves the UK £132 billion a year. They are some of the unsung heroes easing pressure on care homes and the NHS.
But the report states many carers cover the cost of care themselves and two in five struggle to make ends meet.
But Covid-19 has brought with it new pressures as carers self-isolate.
“The thing is some people have got gardens and some haven’t. Some find it difficult to go out and they are having to drive everywhere because they have to take the person they care for with them. They can’t leave them alone - you have to do an awful lot of stuff yourself.”
Like many carers, Stephen also worries about getting ill. According to a 2018 GP patient survey carers are more likely to report having a long-term condition, disability or illness.
Social distancing measures have also meant he can no longer visit his wife in the care home where she stays. He hasn’t been able to visit since the end of March but the staff let him video conference with her.
“They walk a laptop in my wife’s room and put it in front of her. I can wave and she can sort of see me and we can have a little chat!
The thing is she’s not in a capable mood to operate a computer or even wave sometimes but actually seeing that she’s okay and well and the rest of the staff is well gives me a lot of confidence.”
Stephen has also shared links to help carers pass the time during lockdown.
For a virtual tour of famous sites across the globe click here.
To find out more about Mobilise and its virtual cuppa visit https://www.mobiliseonline.co.uk/
To access government guidance for unpaid carers click here.
Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.