CAREGiver shares her story of caring for a loved one

Home Instead CAREGiver Cheryl Stewart shares her very open and honest life story of her time as an unpaid full time Carer 

Six years ago, Cheryl started caring for her husband who had become extremely unwell with a rare auto immune condition.  Initially he was still able to work but unfortunately forced to take early retirement on grounds of ill health.

Cheryl very quickly became his full-time Carer and at times and in her own admission, she felt like she was drowning and unable to find herself and the person she was. She would even go as far to say that she felt it was a never-ending thankless task.

She knew that she needed to ‘find herself’ and do something to enable her to leave the house and have something for her.  She saw an advert from Home Instead, to become a CAREGiver in her local area.  In applying for the role and hearing more about it, she recalls the feeling of ‘YES’ this is for me!

Some friends and family were unsure she was making the right choice, as it was not enough of a contrast to the role she was already undertaking at home and for her dear husband. But her husband automatically saw the benefit that working for Home Instead gave to Cheryl and he would comment about the changes in her and recognised the positive changes in her.

Cheryl explains how caring for our clients and for her husband was very different.  She describes how when you undertake the care of a client, you never stop caring for them in your heart but the job allows you to leave it at the end of the day without taking it home with her and this gave her incredible strength and peace to be the person she needed to be once returning home.

It also gave her the variation in her day and allowed her to leave the home she shared with her husband, to do a job she loves,  and return with fresh eyes, after driving home in the wonderful Yorkshire Countryside.  This really made a wealth of difference to Cheryl and allowed her the strength she needed.

Cheryl shares with us that her husband always felt so guilty that she had to care for him as he was always of the opinion it was for him to care for her and he found it extremely hard to accept at times.  She shares this empathy with her clients she cares for and is able to explain to clients’ families that maybe mum always thought she should be the one to care for her children and that it wouldn’t be the other way round.  This can change the dynamic of family relationships when one of them becomes a Carer for the other.

In delivering care to her husband, Cheryl was able to bring to the role of CAREGiver, the knowledge and experience in dealing with medical terminology and identify symptoms and signs that need looking at by the GP. Cheryl said, “You must never underestimate the importance of reporting something that you deem minor as it could really mean the difference between life and death.” This is something Cheryl adheres to on every client call.

Being a full-time Carer for a loved one is the hardest job in the world, whether it be for your husband, wife, mother or father and Cheryl shared with us that even when she left the house to undertake errands she would be worrying about her husband  and always clock watching and seeing how long she had left him.  Cheryl’s words were, “To become a Carer is very brave, very loving, but please do not be foolish as there is a lot of help out there and you should learn how to ask or accept it”.

After Cheryl’s husband sadly passed in December 2019, she had a short break from being a CAREGiver, which gave her the time to carry out the administration of his estate, but she recalls the relief when she felt ready to return to her role and the comfort she felt when talking to her long term clients and chatting while she made their dinner and finding out how their day had been.

Being a CAREGiver is a very serious and important job, but most frequently it is fun, enjoyable and offers variation every day. The support she has received from clients and colleagues has been amazing and she feels that it has been like talking to friends and family which has given her a lot of comfort during such a difficult period of her life.

We are so proud to have Cheryl on our team here at Home Instead and the knowledge and experience she brings to her CAREGiver role and we would like to thank her in sharing her heartfelt story with us in celebration of Carers Week 2020.