A single mum from Littlehampton, who cares for her daughter with cerebral palsy and three older sons, is speaking out in support of Carers Rights Day.
The national event is held every year to bring organisations together to help unpaid carers know their rights and show them how to get the help and support to which they are entitled.
Angela Scott knows only too well how valuable respite care can be and wants to raise awareness that this can be provided at home.
The support of Caremark Worthing and Arun has made all the difference to the family and six-year-old Gabby loves spending time with her care worker, Lisa Woods, who visits her at home in Admirals Walk a couple of times a week.
Angela said: “I also have three boys, who are 21, 17 and 12, so the word busy doesn’t even come close to describing how full my days are.
“All three boys live at home, Gabby goes to a specialist primary school in Chichester and I volunteer with adults with learning difficulties – plus, I’m a single mum.
“Without our regular visits from Gabby’s care worker, I honestly don’t know what I would do. Sending Gabby to a respite centre just wouldn’t work for us, as a family. It’s a real shame that people think respite care means sending their loved one away for days at a time. That just isn’t the case.”
The Collins English Dictionary defines respite care as ‘short-term care that is provided for very old or very sick people so that the person who usually cares for them can have a break’.
Many people incorrectly think respite care is limited to specialist facilities, away from the home and for elderly people.
Today, the nation recognises the seven million unpaid carers on Carers Rights Day and raises awareness that many seek the support of in-home care agencies to help with people of all ages.
Angela first sought support when Gabby was nine months old. With her condition, Gabby would struggle to settle, leaving Angela exhausted.
Having a care worker come in has given Angela more time to spend with her boys and she is grateful that Gabby has been looked after by the same person since the start.
Cerebral palsy severely affects Gabby’s mobility and her ability to communicate. She cannot speak it is likely her condition will deteriorate as she gets older.
Angela said: “You hear stories of people having different care workers coming in and out of their homes but Caremark always send the same lovely care worker.
“Gabby loves spending time with her and, because she is only six, it’s so important to be me that her care is consistent. If I was to send her into a respite centre, she might be seeing a different person every time which would be quite unsettling for her.
“Because her care worker comes to see us at home, I’m given a much-needed break while also feeling safe in the knowledge that Gabby is in a safe environment, where she feels happy.”
Caremark said its in-home respite care was providing stability and routine at a time when cuts were affecting council-run clubs and respite care in Sussex. The service can be provided for just a few hours, allowing time to pop to the shops and see friends.
Andrew Demetriou, managing director, said: “Caring for a loved one is a rewarding role and, for many, a considerable responsibility. Without the possibility of a short-term break, a carers’ ability to care is sacrificed, which can lead to their loved one needing to go into long-term facilities.
“It’s important for people to understand that respite care centres are not the only option available to them – a few hours of in-home care every week may provide the lifeline they’ve been looking for.
“At Caremark Worthing and Arun, our priority is keeping people in their own homes, for as long as possible, by providing an excellent service and preserving the dignity and independence of those in our care.”