Leicester

Leicestershire scheme 'vital' for unpaid carers

carer and woman hold hands Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Carer Linda Lee said she felt more like a nurse to her husband than his wife

Unpaid carers should see their doctor to ensure they are being properly cared for, a Leicester GP has said.

Professor Mayur Lakhani's calls come as the Carer Health and Wellbeing Service is set up to help the estimated 70,000 carers in Leicestershire.

Carer Linda Lee said she felt more like a nurse than a wife to her husband of 50 years, who has Parkinson's disease.

Mrs Lee said she used to cry herself to sleep before visiting her GP.

"It has been very difficult. Life has been horrendous. I've lost so much, he's lost so much," said Mrs Lee.

"I'm not his wife anymore, I'm his carer. I find that very difficult because instead of doing the nice wifey things for him, I'm having to wash him, I have to clean his teeth, I have to cut his food up because he chokes on it.

"We've had a great life but he sleeps in that bedroom, I sleep in my own room," said Mrs Lee, 70.

"We've lost that lovely closeness - he was my one and only and I was his one and only and we've had a wonderful, loving marriage."

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The Carer Health and Wellbeing Service assesses carers' needs

The Carer Health and Wellbeing Service has been launched during National Carers Week, a scheme run by the NHS and county council.

Prof Lakhani, Chair of West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said visiting the GP "unlocks the doors for a carer".

"Once we've identified them, they get an assessment of their need that could be a health check, a flu jab but also they get an assessment of their financial situation."

Manager of Leicester Carers Centre, Charles Huddlestone, who cares for his 30-year-old autistic son and his wife Gill who uses a wheelchair after a spinal injury, said the service was "vital".

"We've found some carers completely ignoring their own needs," he said.

"When they get to a point where they no longer need to care, their health suddenly changes for the worse because they now have the time to consider their own needs and it starts to hurt.

"We're very good at ignoring our own pain."

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