Monday, October 24, 2011

Young carers ~ taking care of Parents

Supporting the county’s young carers
Mark Shields
Friday, October 21, 2011
12:21 PM
CHILDHOOD is a time for having fun, making friends and gaining confidence. But for more than 1,300 young carers across the county, those years are filled with looking after sick or disabled parents or siblings – which is where Crossroads Care Cambridgeshire comes in.

WHEN Shannon O’Neill gets home from school, the first thing she does is check how her mum Michelle is.

Michelle, 39, suffers from fibromyalgia and adhesion-related disorder (ARD), a condition which causes her constant abdominal pain.

There are times when she is able to look after Shannon as she would like to but, on her bad days, the pain is so intense that 11-year-old Shannon must look after her.

That could mean flushing out the feeding peg that was used in the past to connect Michelle’s colostomy bag, or giving her a massage to soothe her aching muscles.

Then it’s on to the household chores: making dinner, cleaning, washing, drying, and locking the house up for the night – before she sits down to begin her homework.

Even when Michelle is having a good spell, the unpredictability of her condition means she is always in Shannon’s thoughts.

“I’m always thinking of coming back at the end of the day and seeing how my mum is,” said Shannon. “I don’t like going to groups or after school clubs any more, because I’m scared to see what’s going to happen.”

Young carers are often the victims of bullying as they struggle to handle school, homework and their caring duties. As adults, they are twice as likely not to be in education or training as their peers, because caring has affected their education or would mean leaving their parent or sibling without care.

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