Maureen Stenhouse, HR Advisor talks about caring for her mum, becoming co-chair for our Carers Staff Network and the vital support it offers people juggling caring and working.
I’m an HR Advisor in our Recruitment Team and I manage the Recruitment & Selection team, and support managers to recruit effectively. I also lead on immigration issues in recruitment.
I first realised I was a carer 5 years ago after my mother had her second stroke. Although in hindsight I had probably been a carer for a few years prior to that but hadn’t realised. I wish I was told before I became a carer that it is okay to not be okay and being a carer is almost like another full time job so be kind to yourself.
My mum is 80 years old and she lives with my brother. We do her shopping for her as she can’t really go anywhere on her own. After her stroke she lost all confidence in herself and what she can and can’t do. She has weakness in her legs so is unable to walk very far at all and she suffers with COPD so gets breathless very easily. I do her housework- although we have recently arranged for a cleaner to come once a month because it was just getting too much for me and my brother with us both working full time.
My mum feels unable to make any decisions on her own whether something big or small, she always wants to ask me about everything before she makes any decisions- which is quite hard going for me mentally. She now has a walker to support her when walking but she doesn’t have the confidence yet to go out on her own… but we are getting there. Covid has really impacted on this too, her speech has deteriorated in the last year due to not seeing or speaking to many people and she has not been socialising at all, which has affected her confidence.
Juggling caring and working can be very hard but I’m lucky that my brother still lives at home, so I do not need to go to my mums everyday. He works shifts so we work together around that. The only problem is she prefers me to be there and me to help her.
The Trust is great. If I need to attend hospital appointments with my mum or anything else my manager is really supportive and enables me to do whatever I need to do with my mum when I need to- which really takes some of the pressure off.
I’ve been part of our Carers Staff Network since it started and it has helped me to realise I am not alone and that I am actually a carer (because I did feel a bit of a fraud).
All the members of the staff network that I have had the pleasure of meeting (mainly virtually over the past year) are very easy to talk to and to listen to. For me it means a lot knowing you have support there if you need it and you can support someone else if needed. You also learn so much from others who may have already been in your situation and can highlight any pitfalls.
I was approached by the chair, Peter, to be co-chair of the Carers Staff Network after supporting him with a few things for the group. I did think ‘have I got the time or energy to do it’ but I agreed to give it a go as I’m really keen to get the Carers Passport project up and running at the Trust. I feel it’s something that will really improve support for staff who have caring responsibilities at work.
I think it’s so important to raise awareness about Carers Week because there are so many people in the workplace that are carers and don’t even realise it so it’s really important to make people aware of the services and support available.