Keeping your own identity whilst being a stroke carer
In the second of our blogs to celebrate stroke awareness month, Natalie Halford writes about her experiences of caring for her mother.
I was approached by Emma Patchick, a stroke researcher, at our local stroke café in Gorton to take part in a research project aimed at carers of stroke survivors, with the purpose of improving and developing services to help carers of the future. The monthly project allowed me to meet with other carers and initially discuss our own experiences with stroke and why it’s fundamental to help others in similar experiences.
As no stroke is ever the same, all carers will go through a varying range of emotions and experiences throughout their journey, because stroke doesn’t just affect the stroke survivor but also their families and friends too. In getting together it helped collate our experiences to try and generate a tool and approach that will work in practice, to help the carer not only look after the stroke survivor’s needs but think about their own needs too, without feeling guilty for doing so.
A significant point that was felt by all of the group is that as taking on the roll of a “carer” we ourselves lose our identities as the stroke survivor’s mother, daughter, husband or wife etc, and feel that when it comes to using the tool and approach in practice that this point is taken on board first and foremost. By regaining our own identity it helps to enable us to maintain the existing relationship with the stroke survivor and don’t just become their carer.
As a stroke doesn’t discriminate and can affect anybody at anytime people have different perceptions and expectations about the future, but hopefully we now have a more personalised tool that identifies carers’ needs and an approach that allows them the time to prioritise their needs above the stroke survivor’s, possibly for the first time since the stroke occurred.
For more information about our Organising Support for Carers of Stroke Survivors (OSCARSS) work, please contact Katy Rothwell, Programme Manager. We are undertaking this work in partnership with the Stroke Association.
During the month of May, the Stroke Association is raising awareness of the impact of stroke, and sharing information and advice on how to help prevent the condition across the country. To find out more and sign up, please visit www.stroke.org.uk/makemaypurple.