“Everyone I have worked with at Solent demonstrates our HEART values and, because of this, I am able to share my experience with others knowing we have a caring and inclusive culture”
Carers Week 2021- Make caring visible and valued
*Trigger Warning (Mention of self-harm and suicide)
7-13 June is Carers Week and here at Solent, we want to recognise the incredible work undertaken by unpaid carers, acknowledging the positives, as well as the challenges they face every single day.
This Carers Week, we wanted to recognise the role of carers within our organisation by creating an open and safe space for them to tell their stories. Through blog posts, we hope to make the role of caring more visible and highlight their immense value to society. For some, the role of caring can begin suddenly and bring with it many obstacles to overcome. Carers Week is an opportunity to continue the conversation about the positives about caring, as well as the challenges the role may bring.
In this blog post, Corrina Davies, Category Manager and Commercial Lead at Solent NHS Trust, talks candidly about her role as a carer.
Corrina explains: “I am a parent carer to my autistic son. My role entails advocating for his needs to be met in education and healthcare as well as providing care and support to him throughout the day (and night). This involves attending meetings, writing papers, making applications, and ensuring that agencies are meeting their various statutory legal duties within appropriate timescales. I accompany my son to all his appointments and drive him to and from his educational settings. I am on-call 24/7 and this often means taking calls from him or his teachers whilst he is at school to help with his needs.”
“My son’s diagnosis was made when he was 13 years old following a mental health crisis involving severe self-harm and several suicide attempts. He was unable to attend school and no provision was put in place to support his needs. The process of obtaining a diagnosis led to me becoming mentally unwell as the education authority sought to enforce legal action for non-attendance at school (due to his poor mental health). I myself was then diagnosed with depression. Once my son’s diagnosis was made, there was no follow up support available and we were both left with no further guidance.”
“I was completely thrown by his diagnosis of autism and by my depression. I felt that I had no alternative but to leave my previous job which I loved in order to provide the care that my child needed. Being unable to work in the job that I loved had also left me with feelings of hurt and anger as well as a deep sense of guilt for not being able to get the help that my son needed. I became aware of direct and indirect discrimination, and this began to have an impact on our whole family and our place within the local community. We found ourselves very isolated and very much alone.”
“I chose to take a new job at Solent because of our reputation for supporting individuals. Everyone I have worked with at Solent demonstrates our HEART values and, because of this, I am able to share my experience with others knowing we have a caring and inclusive culture.”
“Although the recommendation is always to prioritise your own needs before others, this is not always possible when you are a carer for a family member. I focused on his needs first and spent many months attending training courses, reading and researching into what I could do both to improve the care I could give to him and to find a way for him to access education safely. I then focused on my own mental health and wellbeing. I found that much of the way that I was feeling was caused by feelings of disempowerment and hopelessness from becoming entangled in educational, health and social care systems.”
“I joined support groups for parent carers and found that I was not alone. Sadly, I am one of many parent carers for whom this story will resonate strongly. Many are courageously fighting for their children every minute of the day, some will have good days, some will have bad days, and many are simply too tired to fight anymore.”
“Being a parent carer has given me much greater insight and understanding of the needs of carers. Through this experience, I appreciate the difficulties and discrimination that carers face within education, health and care systems.”
“One of the positives which I had not recognised until recently is that being a parent carer gives me permission to take time to care for myself. We have a new family member, a lovely black Labrador, who supports my son. He also supports me as he needs to be walked in all weather and this gives me time out from the home and space to breathe outside.
“I have certainly learnt to be grateful for every opportunity to learn from my son about how he experiences the world. I have learnt a lot about my own strengths, and I have learnt that I can give back to others by being part of parent carer support groups.”
If you or anyone you know is affected by this story, please reach out for support through Carers UK for help and advice.