Denny woman shares her experiences to help ‘make caring visible’

Carers Week runs from June 8 to 14

By Fiona Dobie
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 10:34 am
Beverley and Alan Gray
Beverley and Alan Gray

The theme for Carers’ Week this year, which runs until Sunday, is ‘Make Caring Visible’.

And one Denny mum, Beverley Gray, is helping to do that by sharing her experiences as an unpaid carer.

Her husband Alan, who worked as a quality manager for a large IT company, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in January 2017.

Beverley, who was a teaching assistant for children with additional support needs gave up her job to care for him.

She said: “From the day Alan was diagnosed I found it very overwhelming. I couldn’t sleep and lost my appetite.

“Reading anything and everything on motor neurone disease – it was all too much. It was at this point we decided that we would take the illness one day at a time and one obstacle at a time.

“At first Alan was able to work from home and I worked part-time in education.

“However over the last year and a half as the illness has affected Alan’s mobility and energy levels he has had to give up his work and I decided to give up my job so that we could still spend time together as husband and wife before I become his full-time carer.”

“The first few years after his diagnosis nothing really changed.

“Fortunately we stay in a bungalow and have made other adaptations to the house to make everyday tasks easier for Alan, enabling him to still keep some independence for as long as possible.

“We have been very lucky as we were financially able to do this and having read so much, the theme of trying to be one step ahead of the game continually came up.

“Looking back, making the adaptions early was definitely the right thing for us to do.”

Beverley is just one of many people across the Falkirk district, and the UK, who is an unpaid carer, caring for someone they love.

Often they don’t think of themselves as a ‘carer’ but it’s important to be aware of what help and support is available to them.

For Beverley the MND Scotland support group which she attends with Alan has been a huge help, meeting others in a similar situation, albeit currently online through video calls due to the pandemic.

Although there is a range of support available for carers, the 54-year-old believes there is still work to be done to ensure they are valued and supported.

“I think carers are undervalued financially,” she said.

“A quick calculation of the carers’ monthly allowance broken down to a 35 hour week means a carer is earning £1.92 per hour. That’s assuming we only care 9am to 5pm, five days a week!

“It is not a situation that any carer chooses to be in but through the love for the person we care for we just don’t have any control over our circumstances.

“I made the choice to give up my employment as I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with Alan for as long as we can.

“I would tell other carers to keep a positive attitude. I think if the person you care for is having an off day just let them have it, don’t take it personally. Don’t lose contact with your friends.

“It’s very hard to watch the person you love slowly lose their ability to do the simplest of tasks.

“Sometimes other people don’t realise that it’s not always possible to be as flexible as you would like.

“The person we care for will always be our first priority.

“Right now I want to spend as much quality time with Alan as his wife, as a family, doing as much as we can while Alan is still able to.

“I do think keeping a positive attitude really helps with our health and well-being.”