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65, Birmingham

Iris's father needed day and night care at home, which was changed each time he was admitted to hospital.

"There was a social worker in the hospital who referred my father to the community care and we had two packages. We had three girls who came in the day from the private sector and we had a public sector carer visiting at night.

"They were so good, they would use some of their own time, but then they were late for the next client."

But they’re only given 15 minutes and in that time the first girl had to get Dad up, dressed, washed, changed – and there was no time for breakfast. She had to wash him while he was sitting on the toilet because she didn’t have time to do it separately. The private girls were having maybe 14 calls to do in a morning. Now, you know, obviously they were rushing to get to everybody and if something happened at one, then that took longer. They were so good, they would use some of their own time, but then they were late for the next client.

Changing plans

Dad then had to go into hospital several times. Every time he went into hospital, we had to get the carers re-set again. It wasn’t a case of just ringing up and saying, ‘Yes, he’s home.’ I had to go back to the social worker and say, ‘He’s going home. When can you supply the care?’ They couldn’t let him out of hospital until the care was back up and running again.

We were quite lucky that there’s a social worker on the ward and she would contact the community social worker and they would say, ‘Oh well, I can’t get anything set up for tomorrow, we’ll have to wait until … maybe Thursday.’ This meant that even if he was ready to go home on a Monday and they couldn’t get it set up till the Thursday, he was bed blocking for a couple of days.

Financial support from the government

I stopped work early to take care of my mother and I got carer's allowance for five months, which is way below the minimum wage. You have to do more than 35 hours a week care and it works out at something like £90. You’re talking a couple of pounds an hour.

But you’re not allowed to have a state pension and a carer’s allowance. As soon as my state pension kicked in, they stopped my allowance. So you either leave them on their own, which you’re not going to do, or you just get on with it.

And carers wouldn’t do the things I’m doing anyway. They won’t wash floors and wash windows and vacuum. We’d have to pay for private home help to come in and help with the cleaning and the washing.

It’s very stressful for me and obviously for my husband as well. He has a lot to put up with!"

More information

  • Carer's allowance: if you provide care for a relative or friend, are you entitled to this government support?
  • Domiciliary care: read more about the home care options that are available to your relative.
  • Care services directory: use our directory to find local authority services for older people.

Page last reviewed: December 2015
Next review due: October 2018