Whenever I get asked if I’m a carer, my immediate answer is “no”, followed by “not really” and then… “ish?”
I don’t really identify myself with caring roles and responsibilities because, to be completely honest, I just help wherever I can and out of respect since it’s my duty as a family member to do so.
In 2014, I first “took care” of my grandparents when I moved into their house in London after graduating from university. I felt overwhelmed by all of the changes I underwent at the time yet, surprisingly, I seemed to embrace them: new location, new environment, new jobs (I was doing an internship whilst working part time at a hotel chain), new opportunities and a whole new stage in my life.
Caring for my grandparents was never a burden; it was more of an eye-opener. Very quickly, it became clear to me that they were striving to live as independent as possible and I merely facilitated the process. Of course, this had an impact on my time and capacity to do other things, mental state, physical capabilities as well as the freedom to go out whenever I wanted to – having to provide an explanation to my grandparents every time so they wouldn’t get worried.
Nevertheless, I always ensured that my career didn’t suffer as a result and that my employers understood my situation – luckily, they were flexible and accommodated to my needs. Being a carer made me develop thick skin and the entire experience contributed towards my self growth as it taught me to what it exactly means to put others first.
Going into a career in social care never quite appealed to me. I commend others who do as their work and the sector itself is highly undervalued. Unfortunately, with the way that this country’s employment structures are set up, this type of work is not given the true credit that it deserves. I’m now working full-time in corporate communications in the city. However, whenever I go back to see my grandparents, elements of care are still involved and, over the years, I have learnt how to be adept at switching between being a loving granddaughter to an attentive carer.