Peta Wilkinson, CEO of leading disability charity, Enham Trust, has unveiled her own first-hand experience as a carer for her husband following his diagnosis with cancer in 2008.
Peta spent six years caring for John, before he passed away in 2014. This week is national carers week (6 – 12 June), an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
While Peta heads up Enham Trust, which employs a legion of personal assistants to care for and support its clients and help them lead independent lives, it is her own personal experience as a carer which drives her to fight for the unpaid carers who toil night and care to support their loved ones.
Peta explains: “Caring provides a highly positive contribution in supporting disabled people. Having someone you know, love and trust help you helps you in turn overcome many of the difficulties that you face in life. It provides comfort, reassurance and stability in stressful situations and provides a positive frame of reference in that person’s life.
“At Enham Trust we value our personal assistants who provide excellent person centred care, but that is only part of the equation. Family, friends and anyone who is important to a disabled person are crucial in providing support in every aspect of their life.
“Anyone can be a carer; adults; children; wives; husbands; friends; extended family. Caring can be a very positive and rewarding experience but can often leave those carers needing extra support.
“18 months ago my husband died after a long and difficult illness. I was for the most part, his primary carer, which I believe was something very special and positive in my life and my pleasure to provide. However, caring can make you physically and emotionally exhausted.
“I remember the weariness of getting up three or four times a night, of supporting John to go to the toilet, lifting him out of his seat and supporting him to eat his food.
“I remember the anxiety and stress of seeing him in pain and discomfort, watching his world become so small and confusing.
“I remember the stress and fear every time he went into hospital which was very frequently; the fear of him dying and the sense of loss of our relationship.
“Whilst I always loved him, in the end I was not his wife, which distressed me greatly. I missed our holidays together and all the things we loved to do together.
“Carers provide a huge amount of unpaid support for people without whom their lives would be lessened and the burden on the state increased. At Enham Trust we believe that such care and support should be recognised and valued and that more support and help should be afforded them.”
If you are a carer and need additional help and advice, or want to enquire about becoming a carer for Enham Trust’s Care at Home Service please visit: www.enhamtrust.org.uk.