Scottish Election: Will politicians care for carers?

Scottish Election: Will politicians care for carers?

By Huw Williams BBC Scotland reporter

The Lally family
 The Lally family want to see more help for carers

The two four-year-old girls were wearing matching pink outfits.

You could tell they are both big Katie Perry fans.

Holly belted out the words along with the video.

“Baby you’re a firework …”

And her twin sister Katie jiggled around in joy, with a broad grin across her face.

But while Holly was free to run around the house, Katie uses a wheelchair.

She’s quadriplegic and has complex disabilities which mean she has to be fed through a tube.

On a good day they are just like any loving family.

But, the girls’ mother Clare Lally explained to me, bad days can be pretty grim.

“Last week Katie screamed for six days non-stop, and in between she’s sick. You know, she’s vomiting,” she said.

And when she regurgitates anything, there is a risk that Katie could choke. Silently.

So mum and dad need to have a suction machine on stand-by, every hour of the day and night.

The pump is fitted with a slender tube, designed to suck away any obstructions from the little girl’s airway.

But it means Clare Lally and her partner have to take it in turns to stay awake all through the night, keeping watch alongside their daughter’s bed.

Just in case anything goes wrong.

‘Craving a sleep’

“We do two to three hours shifts at night, to make sure she’s not choking,” her mum said.

In an interview for BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Clare said this means that what they need more than anything else is a break.

Respite care, as it is called in the jargon.

“To me respite is a sleep,” she explained. “I’m craving a sleep.”

“And for other carers out there, it’s being able to meet people of your own age. Being able to go and get your hair done. To meet your friends, have a coffee. Go and sit somewhere and read a book.”

The family do get some support to help with Katie’s disabilities.

“That gives me time to spend with Holly, to give Holly one-to-one,” Clare said.

“And I think for other families too, they have to think of respite for siblings.

“And we want to do things together as a family. The girls are twins, at the end of the day.”

‘Action now’

Those themes – the right to respite, and the needs of other family members – are echoed in a manifesto for carers, published by a coalition of groups.

Claire Cairns, from the Coalition of Carers in Scotland, said the strapline they chose was “No more talk. Action now”.

One problem is the wide range of needs carers have.

“We always say no two carers are the same,” Claire Cairns explained.

“There are young carers, and in our manifesto was say young carers have the right to be children first.

“And we have some things we want politicians to do for adult carers.

“We believe adult carers should have the right to a break from caring; to emotional support; and to training. They don’t have those rights at the moment”

‘Lot of votes’

Back at Katie and Holly’s home, mum Clare Lally agrees warm words are not enough.

Her message to the politicians, this election campaign?

“You will recognise us. And you do appreciate us. Because we’re saving you billions (of pounds) a year,” she said.

“You know, £54 a week carers allowance? Who would work for £1.50 per hour?

“That’s what we’re doing.”

And to any would-be MSPs who won’t take the issue seriously, there is a gently veiled threat.

She said: “There are 650,000 carers in Scotland.”

“That’s a lot of votes.”

2 Responses to Scottish Election: Will politicians care for carers?

  1. Jan Barber-Maltby says:

    First of all, you are wonderful parents to your daughters.
    I agree wholeheartedly that there should be far more done for Adult Carers.
    My opinion of the politicians are that some do not have enough understanding of the concept of the life of carers of disabled children/adults. Could they live on £54 per week, or be unpaid, as I am, certainly not!
    The Governments, Scottish and English need to review Carers Allowance and their needs for a respite break and quality time.
    Actions do speak louder than words and if there was any appreciation shown by politicians…PROVE IT.

  2. graham says:

    Firstly, I would say you are wonderful parents. Secondly I also believe that more needs to be done for carers : To the question ‘ Will politicians care for carers ? I’m afraid I rather doubt it ( at least no more than currently ) All you can do is to look at what each individual Scottish Party is offering carers & vote for the one that offers the most to them. If all the estimated 650,000 carers in Scotland did the same it might just make a difference.

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