Carers Week is all about showing respect and support to the wonderful unpaid carers in the UK and to recognise how much of a difference they make to their family, friends, and the wider community.

It aims to highlight the reality of being a carer, the challenges that come along with it, thus in turn also raising awareness to those who may not think they have enough caring responsibilities to identify as a carer. Which was definitely the case for me, only recently have I realised I’m a secondary carer, boarding on primary in the daytime.

There is so much information, guidance, and support available

Many of those organisations and individuals making this campaign a possibility – for example:

My own experience

Now to share a little bit of my own experience with care and how I’ve utilised Smarter Working to help accommodate my caring responsibilities.

My beautiful ‘nan-in-law’ is one of the most incredible people I know. She has been through a fair few traumatic events in her life which have resulted in mental health struggles but also being diagnosed with lupus (SLE) back in 2002 after experiencing a blood clot on her lung, followed by a stroke.

Like many other auto-immune conditions this was just the beginning of her body fighting against itself and since then she has a lot more health issues to add to the list – especially over the last 12 months with several emergencies and hospital visits.

When I first met my now husband, I hadn’t got a clue what lupus was, the severity of the flare ups, the triggers and what it could lead to. Throughout the years I have researched to better prepare myself to support when needed (including the vast amount of medication she’s on) which I’m glad I did as there have been a fair few scary times.

It’s been challenging in the past to be there for her as my jobs didn’t allow me to be flexible – which is the same for the rest of the family too. However, my current role is much more accommodating.

I’m so grateful for Smarter Working

It’s allowed me to take her to a variety of medical appointments, work from waiting rooms, help with personal care, housework, whizz round to her house if she’s fallen, needs some company, a chat or even just a hand to hold whilst she rests. I often work from her house when it’s particularly challenging just so I’m there.

You’re important too

Taking care of her is my norm, she’s family and that’s ‘just what you do’ but it was only recently in my 1-2-1s with my managers that I realised the weight that was on me and how I need help too sometimes. They went through a few support materials that are there for me and reiterated that they are only a message away. I’m so thankful for them and my team.

It’s not all doom and gloom of course! On her good days we go out for lunch, shopping and bake together. She reminds me to live my life to the fullest and seize the opportunities that come my way but also to rest if I need to.

So, this is just a reminder to myself and to any others with caring responsibilities – you’re important too.

You can’t care as well as you’d like to if you aren’t caring for yourself as well. Reach out if you need support.

Isabel Woodcock
Campaign & Media Management Executive, Argos Client Services & Wellbeing Rep

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