Wednesday 16 August 2023

This story shall the good man teach his son

St Crispin’s Day is not until 25th October but here’s a somewhat rambling  reflection All things are ready, if our minds be so  by The Reluctant Carer on what it takes to care for an aged, frail, previously absent [merchant seaman] father.  "The point, for all the warlike connotations of that speech is that your brother can be anyone – and so is everyone your brother. “This did the good man teach his son”, and I never even realised it was happening. For all they cannot do, words somehow did all that, and then did all this too". Why not give the reading a heroic soundtrack? lifted from Branagh's Henry V.

There is a good bit of overlap between the blog cited above and an anonymous book The Reluctant Carer (2022) [Review] which documents (with laconic hilarity, stoic grit and many comms fails) how a London media person returned to the provinces to look after his parents, and himself, and stayed for nearly two years. The R.C. had recently lost his job, his marriage and his home in Town and was a teensy bit shamefaced about moving back to the teenage bedroom which he'd vacated 30 years earlier with zero intention of returning. R.C.'s sister had stayed near the home place and was managing the parents and their several deficits - falls, shingles, deafness, thrombosis, COPD, diabetes. In 12 months, "The Dad" was hospitalized 5 times and each event saw him discharged home rather than to a step-down facility that was equipped to care for someone of his age and infirmity.

A significant part of  this was that The Dad refused to be institutionalized despite this putting the entire burden of his care on his 80-something wife which her own medical troubles. Care-at-home is possible in the UK, and in Ireland, but it is no longer the purview of The District Nurse and GP clinic - the armies or elders have overwhelmed that model. Care has been largely privatized into a late capitalist model where the coal-face workers slave away on zero-hours minimum-wage contracts but the company charges 3x as much so that the share-holders secure their doles. Good care-home and care-agencies tend to get eaten up by larger conglomerates for whom the bottom line out-ranks compassion.

The System is tottering, but carers are caring: some for money, some from duty and some for love. Agincourt was all over in a day but caring continues for years. Respite care is A Thing in Ireland. If you are caring for your folks at home, you can apply to have them installed in A Home for week so that you can re-charge your mental health. Except that there is zero availability under the HSE. But this is typical: we've just spent 4 person hours trying to get an emergency dental appointment sooner than next month. I spent two hours with last week;  just trying to cancel our contract having sold our souls to Vodafone. Try getting a pediatric speech and language therapist before the child is old enough to vote! 

Eventually the R.C.'s father died Good Grief and the Carer’s life continued. The book is excellent if you're in the caring business or know someone who is. Available as an ear-book it takes just 6 hours at normal speed.

No comments:

Post a Comment