Steven is a carer for his dad who has dementia and his mum who is the primary carer. Both parents are in their 80’s.

What changed for you as a carer when we went into lockdown last year? 

The first lockdown was the worst as I couldn’t see my 2 grandchildren anymore who I enjoyed taking to/from school. I couldn’t see my elderly parents either, who I would usually visit weekly or my son and daughter and their families. The grandkids would usually have a sleep over with us each week with pizza and a movie night and we all looked forward to this. As soon as this lockdown has ended this is the first thing we are going to do!

My dad’s dementia has got progressively worse over the past year and although he is not aware of what is going on, he knows that things are different and it is unsettling for everyone. I used to take him out every week to help my mum so she could have a break and as soon as the first lockdown was lifted I continued to do this.

Through GCA we were put in touch with an organisation to provide some respite care every Monday with a care worker taking my dad out for a bit and giving mum a break.  Last year we welcomed another grandchild, who was born during lockdown.  We can’t wait to spend more time with them. Luckily I took early retirement so I am able to help more with the family’s needs.

What has been the biggest challenge for the people you support? 

It was particularly difficult at first as my son and son in law are both self-employed and running their own businesses. They had to shut for 6 weeks with no income. Luckily, being in the plumbing, removal, and IT businesses, they were considered key workers and so could open again. My daughter, who is a key worker in a special school, was also back to work so I was put in charge of homeschooling for a 3 and 6 year old!

From March to September we structured each day with short lessons of 10-15 minutes for English, Maths, Science and RE, any more time was too much for a 6 year old, before becoming very restless.

In November, my mum became ill with Covid and was very unwell for two weeks. It took about a month before she was really feeling better but she still carried on caring for my dad; providing personal care including washing and feeding as well as giving him his medications.

Dad couldn’t cope on his own and needs 24/7 care. He has had dementia for 10 years now but his confusion has noticeably increased over the past year and he mentions wanting to pop down to the club (which he hasn’t visited for some years) and his ‘old’ house.

I miss volunteering and being involved at my local football club, helping to prepare the pitch and the dressing rooms. I support one lad who is now on his own and having a tough time to make sure he is ok.

Second lockdown and the challenges don’t seem quite as intense as last March. There is more traffic on the roads, more people back at work, and schools are open again. 

What are your hopes and fears for the future? 

I’m really looking forward to watching a live football match again, as well as enjoying a pint in the pub and a Sunday roast out. All the normal things that we took for granted – how did this even happen!

I would love to go on holiday with my wife and I am really hoping for a nice summer when we can get out in the garden with the grandkids and have a BBQ! Family is the most important thing to me and so just spending happy times together is what I am most looking forward to.

Looking ahead, I am concerned about a third wave of the virus and another lockdown. I worry about losing a member of my family to Covid. My son’s friend’s dad recently died from Covid and this has made everything very real to us.  

We have been lucky as our family is very close and we have been able to do quite a bit really. GCA have kept in touch with us over the past year, checking we are ok and always being there for us at the end of a phone. They helped my mum get a Carers Trust grant for a washing machine and also a Carer Wellbeing Grant for a new hoover.

We do miss being able to pop along to the GCA office for a catch up and often I would take my dad too, and he always enjoyed the visit.

My wife and I, my mum and dad and my daughter have all had our first vaccines now and mum and dad will be getting their second one this weekend! It feels like another step in right direction. It feels like another step to freedom!