If you had asked me months ago who a carer was I would have said a carer was a middle aged lady who looked after the elderly, a little like paid home help. However, since working here on the MediStori Movement, I’ve come to realise that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After speaking with so many people who have been trialling the MediStori, I am now aware that carers are so much more. A lot of the time they are not paid, they are mums, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers, caring for a loved one who needs a little help! Most are juggling a full time job along with home life while still managing to find time to care for others. Of course there are also paid carers to help these families out but I can admit that I had a very narrow vision when I made my original assumption.
A few months ago, a flier caught my eye. It was for National Carers Week (June 8th – 14th 2015) and there were a number of events taking place nationally, including three in Mayo – a health & wellness day for carers in Castlebar (the launch) along with stress management workshops and beauty demonstrations in Ballina & Louisburgh.
I immediately thought of Olive, and wanted her to go to one of these. After all, she is a young mum, caring for three little girls, her husband, and in the past her dad. In my opinion she deserved a little treat and an afternoon of pampering for all that she does. After a while, it became clear to me that not only should Olive go for herself but I should go and introduce carers to the MediStori.
So I contacted the organiser of the Mayo events, Bernadette Moran, and she was more than welcoming for us to go along on the day.
On the morning of the launch I couldn’t get over the amount of carers present, both young & old. We only had the stand set up and they were streaming in in big numbers. Within minutes, I knew we had made a good decision to come to this event, as there was a massive amount of interest in the MediStori. Carers could immediately see the benefits it could have in helping them look after others, and give them piece of mind that when they left their loved ones with someone else, that all the necessary information was there, in one easily accessible place.
To open the launch, CEO of Carers Association, Mr. John Dunne, Manager of Mayo’s Carer Centre, Bernadette Moran, and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny all spoke briefly. One thing came clear from all their speeches – they recognised the hard word of carers in our country and that these carers take a huge burden of cost off our health services by doing what they do and they wanted to do something to acknowledge their hard work. Breege Mulvanney, Mayo Carer of the Year 2014, was due to speak on the day about why Carers Week matters to her but unfortunately, at last minute, she was unable to attend. However, the inspirational speech that she had prepared was read aloud and you could feel the positivity in the room.
There are over 187,112 people in Ireland who care for somebody at home* These carers were described as a treasure to our country and a treasure to our health system. All three speakers acknowledged that carers just get on with it on a daily basis but they also recognised that while it’s tough in its own way, it’s more rewarding in many other ways. Also it was address on the day that we are all on the same conveyor belt of life and that carers come along and make life as comfortable as it can be. It is very difficult for some carers to combine this role with a full time job. We have older people looking after older people and others dealing with the stress of caring for people with addictions or serious illnesses. Everyone in the room agreed that we need to support carers in what they do and that carers deserve the best in what we can give them.
One thing that became evident as the day went on was that carers are not alone. Various companies were on hand to offer pampering and treatments, from a cut and blow dry to a full make up overhaul to massages and reflexology. Boots Pharmacy also provided goodies bags for the first 40 carers who registered on the day. All in all, the broad Mayo community came together to support our carers and the MediStori team were proud to also be there to offer our support.
After walking away that day, I had a new respect for carers. Not that I never had respect for them, but I never realised exactly how much they do and what they go through on a daily basis. Their stories, their lives, their selflessness really struck me and they never complained once. They were just delighted to be recognised and have a day out for themselves and be offered supports. Even though there was some talk of needing more resources and assistance from the government going forward, they all seemed to leave very happy and relaxed from their day.
If you are care for a loved one at home and need some help, contact your local Carers Association. They are “there to care” and provide a range of supports and services. I am delighted that we decided to offer the MediStori to these carers and hope that it helps them, even if only in a small way.
If you know a carer who you feel should be recognised for their efforts, then why not nominate them to be either Ireland’s Family OR Young Carer of the Year. Closing date for nominations is 11th September 2015 and they can be done here
We recently came across this lovely video made by young carers in Donegal that some of you may like to look at:
* Taken from Carers Leaflet
Thanks so much as always for reading. Áine 🙂