The secret to caring

They sat in a row in the shopping centre, watching the passersby. They were quiet and good. They were adults sitting in wheelchairs. A carer stood behind them looking at her phone. I don't know how long they were there. Perhaps it was only a few minutes, but it bothered me. Especially when I thought about my daughter's future.

There was a sense of disinterest from the carer, and passing shoppers either stared or averted their eyes. I smiled at them, but didn't know what else to do.

I suppose if I was their paid carer, I would have stood where they could see me. I would have explained why they were waiting, and why I needed to use the phone. Even if they were non-verbal and had severe intellectual disabilities and I didn't know how much they understood. I would have offered them something to hold, or look at, or eat, or drink. I would have pointed out things of interest.

Why would I have done this?

Because it's what I've always done with Smiley, my severely disabled daughter.

When she was a baby I would bring her around the house with me in a bouncy chair, just as I did with my other children. I would tell her what I was doing and copy or reply to any sounds she made. Now she's 19 and I can't bring her everywhere with me any more, but I do my best. She does her best too, she tries to talk even without any words. And she loves being around other people and enjoys their company, and people enjoy her company too.

And I've learned that the secret to caring is this: you get back what you give, and the more you give, the more you get back.



20 comments:

  1. Oh such true words. I used to work in care and I always treated those I looked after just as I would anyone else, even if they were severely disabled. There nothing nicer than a positive response, like a smile, it's worth the effort. Sadly not all carers are the same :(

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    1. Thank you for reminding me about all the good carers out there x

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  2. I hate that we, as special needs parents, are more aware of the failings in the caring profession. My little A will always need some care, and the thought terrifies me. I do see some awesome carers in my local area, but I'm still so worried x

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  3. Reading between the lines, your message is that to be a good carer you have to care (when caring means it bothers you how the person is feeling).

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    1. But also that your work as a carer becomes more enjoyable if you make that extra effort.

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  4. So true. Sadly I think you're either born or brought up to care. Some people just don't have it in them; they don't see the importance of it for both parties. As you say, you get back what you give but it tends to be nothing material and therefore it means nothing to some :(

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    1. I don't think I was born to be a carer at all, and I still chafe against the restrictions. But sometimes the rewards are worth every second of effort xx

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  5. Some just don't get it. Mind you some do. I was in a shopping centre before Xmas and an adult male was watching a childrens choir. He was singing along and when they finished he went wild. His carer decided to remain with him while the others left, and alongside him enjoyed the choir, high fiveing him and encouraging his applause. It was a lovely few minutes and the children eventually understood his delight and their smiles widened.

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  6. That is sad to see. And it makes you think of their families at home, having entrusted them to their care facility for the day. And it is especially tough for you to witness.
    But let me play devil's advocate here, just for a minute. Perhaps they were taking a little break? Waiting for the next activity to happen, after they had been interacting with their charges? I mean, we don't all interect with our children (special needs or otherwise) all the time do we? And we do spend time on our phones etc too, when we know they are quiet and relaxing?! Right?!

    Well, at least that's how I like to think of it. To not pre-judge. And I say this to make me feel better too, as I could say the same when I see carers in my mother's nursing home. It's a tough one..... xx

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    1. I guess that's what I was trying to say when I mentioned that it could have been only a few minutes, as I didn't hang around. It was more that it bothered me just seeing it. But you're absolutely right, we shouldn't pre-judge, and yes I could have been spotted on the phone when out with my daughter too xx

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  7. Perfectly put. The recent photo doing the rounds with the carer on her phone and the man in the wheelchair covered in shopping bags really upset me. I've seen carers too sat in a pub completely ignoring the people they were caring for. I don't understand why you would do that job if you just didn't care. But I ha r also seen some wonderful carers- H has some that chat and play with him constantly, they enjoy being in his company as he does theirs. And you're right- the more you put in, the more you get back xxx

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    1. My daughter's key worker seems to be another dedicated carer, and she has been lucky to have many of them so far :) xx

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  8. It is a worry for us parents... all over the world. Yep... the more you put in, the more you get back. xx

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  9. we always stand in front of our daughter when she is in her wheel chair, i've had people make comments as they've walked passed saying i should be taking more care and not on my phone, but they don't realise the situation, assume i'm the carer

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    1. I suppose that's the thing - as an onlooker it's always hard to know - and like most people, I'm probably too quick to judge. But it's only because I worry so much about my daughter x

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  10. You write so eloquently and with such love x

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