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In Praise of Carers...

19 September, 2016

Who make my day!

To my fellow wheelies: if you have a good carer, hang onto him or her, with love or money, because a good carer can set you up for a good day, and a lousy carer almost guarantees a lousy day. If you haven’t got a good one, do what you can to find one. If you can’t find one who ticks all the boxes, be satisfied with one who ticks the boxes that are of most importance to you - because there a lot of boxes to be ticked. In my opinion, a good carer has to be;

Capable: because there are many tasks a carer must learn and remember for each of us, and because emergency situations might arise that require his or her action.

Trustworthy: because carers work unscrutinised in our homes, where they learn a lot about our personal circumstances, that we want to be kept private. 

Respectful: because carers often find us in reliant and sometimes humiliating states, which make us defenceless and vulnerable.

Sensitive: because we are all different, with different requirements and priorities and sensitivities, so carers have to be able to detect our individual priorities and accept our foibles.

Stout-hearted: because some of a carer's work, for some of us, is not very nice, and we can’t do anything about that.

Impeccable: because some carers work is in our space, the space that is otherwise invaded by only dentists and lovers. And because, as much as we want to be impeccable in return, we can’t be without their help. 

Patient: Because sometimes we prefer to do things slowly for ourselves, rather than have carers do them quickly, and because we can have personal fetishes that we are annoyingly finicky about. 

Dedicated: Because carers demanding profession is under-appreciated by society (it doesn’t, thank goodness, involve as many pieces of paper as some other professions!). So if carers don’t get satisfaction from knowing how valuable their expertise is to their clients, they will soon tire of the job and want to move on.

Of all the difficult tasks I give my carers, probably the most pedantic is dressing me to set me up on my wheelchair for the day. The task is akin to dressing three beach balls in a string-net-bag so the result makes me feel like Clint Eastwood sitting straight and tall in the saddle. "Go ahead" I say to my carer, "make my day." Many a carer has lost patience with me saying: my collar keeps creeping up on the right, can you tuck the jumper in a bit more there? I’m sure my left leg cuff is a centimetre lower than the right, why aren’t my shoulders straight like Clint’s? But believe it or not, I now have carers who take the job as seriously as I do, understanding that something not quite right, that they might think nothing of because they can so easily adjust it when they notice it, can be a frustration for me that can set the tone of my whole day. 

So here’s to you, professional, trustworthy, respectful, sensitive, stout hearted, impeccable, patient, dedicated, understanding and friendly super carers - or Personal Assistants (PAs) as I prefer to call you - thank you for your valued service, that can make me, on a good day at least, feel like Clean Harry.

Dagwood Johnson is a sixty something man who sometimes likes to use a little black humour to find his way through the amusing roller-coaster of life. He has been living with C6/7 spinal cord injury since 1998. He is one of our regular volunteer bloggers.

Tags: Blog, Health & Wellbeing