I hope it’s okay to chime in, I have only just found this thread or I would have contributed sooner.
I have been a carer for my husband for over 35 years and during that time was also a carer to my Mum who had COPD and mixed dementia. Four years of that was spent living between two houses caring for 2 people plus going out to work. I was subsequently diagnosed with a progressive neurological condition which has made life (and caring) challenging! When Mum died 4 years ago, I tried returning to paid employment but only lasted a month before I totally shut down both physically and mentally, and haven’t worked (outside the home) since. Then Covid came along in 2020 and my husband developed an acute phobia of catching it. Consequently, I didn’t leave the house or speak to anyone face to face for the best part of 2 years. Even now, I still have to get our shopping delivered; f2f contact with others is carefully controlled and as for being able to do anything spontaneously, forget it. Trips out have to be agreed and arranged like a military operation… and any pre-agreed journey out for more than a couple of hours can very quickly be cancelled at a moment’s notice.
Yes of course I could announce that I am “going out for X number of hours and will be back at X time…” but honestly, the grief and fall-out from actually doing that (assuming I could pluck up the courage in the first place!) outweighs and nullifies the benefits of doing so.
So, desperate for support however tenuous, for exactly these types of issues, I did make some brief posts on the Women’s Aid Forum which I thought might be helpful, as they have both a dedicated area for Carers and the over 50’s. However, lovely though the ladies there are, I very quickly discovered that they have very little (any!?) experience of coercive control combined with caring. The overwhelming advice was to “put myself first and just leave”… yeh, like that’s actually possible! Unless someone has been in this very unique situation themselves, they can’t possibly grasp what it is like for a Carer living this 24/7.
Impossibly difficult though our lives may be, there is still an inherent feeling of duty to continue in the caring role, coupled with the difficulties surrounding the complexities of who (carer/caree) should leave the property; legal advice surrounding same; practical and emotional support (non-existent unless you can afford private therapy). No wonder it is ‘easier’ for carers to just stay, put up and shut up.
A dedicated Minister for Carers sounds like an excellent idea, not just lumped in with the duties of Minister for Social Care as @Charles47 mentioned. But I have doubts as to whether this will ever happen. I guess if this were a dedicated position, that would mean the Govt would actually have to do something about the issue. Far easier to sweep the issues under the carpet and pretend they don’t exist.
Like you, I would be happy for my comments to be used anonymously but nothing more for the moment. But I would welcome contact on the forum in relation to this issue, either here or in a dedicated area for this particular topic.