Son's years of caring for poorly father

For years Doncaster civil servant Geoffrey Johnson mixed a full time job with looking after his ailing father.

Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 7:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 9:20 am
Patient participation group member Geoffrey Johnson, of Rossington, was a carer for his dad for several years

He would return home to Rossington after a full day at his office in Sheffield, and then turn his attention to helping his dad deal with issues including incontinence and breathing problems.

He was pleased to help his dad - a former vehicle builder at British Rail Engineering in Hexthorpe.

West End Clinic in Rossington has launched carers information week for Carers Week Staff involved are pictured

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Geoffrey 's dad, William Johnson, died aged 87 in 2015 - but Graham is now putting his weight behind a campaign to make sure carers make their doctors aware of what they are doing.

He feels if he had been registered at the time, he could have received help that he was not aware of at the time.

He said: "I cared for him, while also working has a caseworker at the Home Office in Sheffield. It was difficult to juggle the two roles. I was away from the home for 11.5 hours during the working day.

"I woke up at 5.30am in the morning, making my father a cup of tea, breakfast and giving him his medication, before setting off on the bus/train/tram to Sheffield.

West End Clinic in Rossington has launched carers information week for Carers Week Staff involved are pictured

"When arriving back home, he would have been incontinent.

"After tidying up, I'd start preparing the dinner, wash the pots, followed by giving him is medication, preparing him for bed.

"He had multiple health problems, which required constant hospital appointments. I worked Monday to Thursday, so I had to constantly ask my employer if I could change my days to fit in with the hospital appointments.

"My father needed regular fortnightly blood transfusions, if it was not for the kindness of people giving blood, I would not have had the further four years to spend with him."

On one day he returned home to find his dad had been on the flood most of the day. He feels had he registered he may have been able to get help through a button on a pendant his dad could have pressed for help.

Geoffrey took early retirement in July 2013, at the age of 56, after the hospital informed him, that his father’s health was deteriorating. He then become a full time carer and began to receive assistance for the first time.

From that point he received help from Age UK to give him a wash and apply cream

Geoffrey added: "Being a carer is exhausting, you feel isolated, no longer able to leave the home, cut off from friends and previous work colleagues.

"During my employment, I had no idea of the services available to carers. I would arrive back home from work to find my father had been on the floor face down all day, unable to move.

"There was no annual medical check for the carer, while I was caring for my father." He said with hindsight, he would have liked to have been given some first aid training at that time, which he later discovered is available.

Geoffrey is backing a campaign at his local GPs' practice, West End Clinic in Rossington, to get people to register. The practice has issued a support leaflet, and appointed a carers champion, Beverley Anthony, to help people get any assistance that is available. It is also putting leaflets into the local schools to find any young carers - which they rate as the hardest groups to identify.

Practice manager Chris Jones said the practice was able to give support such as annual health checks for carers, and other help such as medical health counselling.

They launched a campaign during National Carers Week. At the start of the week, they had 61 patients registered as carers. By the end of the week, that had risen to 75.

"We've identified a few who didn't realise they were carers, but are," said Ms Jones. "There are definitely more out there and we will keep trying."

GP Ayesha Zafar said the number of carers was likely to rise. She added: "There are seven million carers registered carers. We have a lot of chronic disease, especially in an old mining village like Rossington. It is also about awareness and making people aware they can be classed as a carer, and letting them know that our doors are open."

Doncaster Carers Service can be contacted on 01302 812 827.