I realize that a number of MSPs and Carers were not able to attend the Cross Party Group on Carers Last Night in the Scottish Parliament So here is the Text of what I said in my presentation.
“Good Evening my name is Michael Grieve and I am going to speak to you about being Prepared to care.
I have been a carer for my wife Claire for about 8 years. It is quite hard to say when I really started being a carer, as my wife’s illness has deteriorated over time. She suffers from Chronic Pain but it was eight years ago I gave up work as a Programmer Analyst with the Edinburgh Woollen Mill to become a full-time carer. The Chronic Pain she suffers from has become more debilitating and now her loss of Mobility has reached the stage that she currently is stuck in her bed 24/7 so she is only out of bed to go to the toilet. At the moment this is a real struggle for her to achieve but she struggles and fights everyday to do things that you and I take for granted.
I was not prepared for the financial implications of me being a full-time carer having been used to a reasonable income from working full-time.
I was not prepared for having to fight for my wife to get the Benefits that she is entitled to.
I was not prepared for having to see my wife in pain and not be able to do anything about it.
I was not prepared for being called a bully when I stand up for the person I care for.
I was not prepared for the heartache our Children would go through when they see their Mother in Pain.
I was not prepared for the lack of support from friends and family. My Family don’t live near enough to give physical support but the emotional support they give helps immensely.
I was not prepared for having to fight every step of the way.
I was not prepared for how it would affect our relationship however that has not been a negative thing we are closer now than we have ever been. We laugh we joke we get through the day.
I was not prepared for the fact that I would experience that which few fathers have and be at home and help and guide my children’s growth I am proud of all three of my children they are all doing the most with their education Our youngest Daughter is just starting 5th Year and our Eldest Daughter is in 6th Year. However it is our son who has gone to Abertay University and is a Student Nurse. His time spent with his mum after leaving School and before going to University had an impact on him which is why he chose nursing.
I have campaigned for or against one thing or another all my life and it was I suppose inevitable that I would become a campaigner for carers. The profile of Unpaid Carers has been increased over the past couple of years but it still has a long way to go a lot of people and yes politicians among them still don’t get the work that the Millions of unpaid carers do every day.
There are still people out there who don’t identify themselves as carers we have to reach them and get them over the stigma that being called a carer means that you are an “unpaid skivvy” as one person described how they felt about the term to me.
I would like to see Carers getting the respect and recognition they deserve not hidden away as a cheap solution to the cuts in health and social care.
Without organizations like the local carers centers, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Carers (Scotland) I don’t know where the campaign for carers would be. I am privileged to do work with all these organizations and I have not met a group of People more committed to fight for the organizations they represent.
Organizations like the Royal College of GPs are now developing policies on carers and ensuring a greater understanding of the role of carers among GPs.
The Co-op Retail stores have adopted The Carers Trust as their charity of the year and hope to raise £5 Million pound I am proud to be one of Scotland’s Carers Ambassadors and as such go to stores and help them understand what carers do and provide a local contact for events and support.
However the fight continues there are new carers every day and I will continue to fight for them not to go through what I and many others have. Clare Lally and I have developed and online presence in the form of a Blog and are both shocked and pleased at the great response it has received. Posts may be in fits and burst but we hope to have “Guest Bloggers” to speak of their experiences.
My whole outlook on life has changed since becoming a carer I believe for the better when you have to spend your time thinking of someone else and putting their needs before your own it makes you realize that some of the small things in life don’t really matter.
I believe that yes there are negative impacts on your life at the moment when you become a carer but the benefits you can get can far out weight them.
Thanks for listening.”