WHEN Barbara Carr’s daughter suddenly became seriously ill following brain surgery, her life changed overnight.

She stepped in to be her main carer, a role she still performs.

In an instant, her daughter, who was a married mum with a high-flying career, had her world turned upside down. And so did Barbara.

Barbara, who lives in north Essex, had to become a carer for her daughter and granddaughter, a role she continues to carry out as needed ten years on.

The 68-year-old former pharmaceutical consultant said she battled on for some time coping with the situation, looking after her daughter who can be ill at the drop of a hat as an after effect of her brain injury.

And while the illness changed her daughter’s life, so it did Barbara’s.

“I have had some pretty rough times,” said said.

“I lost my self esteem initially. It’s taken a while to build myself back up.”

Barbara is like so many people who have to care for a loved one and wouldn’t identify as a carer.

It is, after all, part of loving someone to care for them but in some situations it can be so much more.


Barbara said: “My life is completely different now.

“I’m hyper vigilant and never really relax. I wait for that phone call and it’s taken a long time to adapt.

"I take my granddaughter to clubs, as well as advocating for my daughter and her ongoing treatment.”

Barbara, who now needs a hip operation, said she continued for a couple of years before realising she needed some support herself.

She said: “I was at the end of my tether and I had run out of all my savings.”

She contacted Action for Family Carers which sent a social worker round within days to help.

Although Barbara is still the number one carer for her daughter, who now lives five minutes from her, she has regular respite through a hospice nurse and also has a personal assistant.

Read more >> Wife says dementia-sufferer husband 'pushed from pillar to post' after going into care

She added: “I think you need emotional support as a carer. Most carers are struggling along in some state of depression all the time.”

Barbara is now an ambassador for Carers UK and HealthWatch Essex, and has set up her own support group called Care 4 Carers Club.

She said: “I wanted to set up Care 4 Carers Club to help support other people in the same position and teach organisations, like the hospital, about the carers’ voice and needs.”

Shirley Black, patient experience engagement officer at East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester Hospital, said many people find themselves in positions of caring for someone and not identifying as an unpaid carer.

She said: “Unpaid carers can be anyone who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.

“If you care and aren’t being paid - you’re an unpaid carer and there is support available out there. You do not have to push on through by yourself.”

To view the help available, visit esneft.nhs.uk.