May 20 2013 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Monday, June 18, 2012
National Carers Week begins today to recognise and celebrate the selfless work of the UK’s six million unpaid carers.
To mark this week’s nationwide awareness campaign, the Journal spoke to one of Haringey’s many carers about the challenges she faces looking after her chronically ill husband.
Elizabeth Bolden-Lamb, 43, of Tintern Road, Wood Green, has been the sole carer of husband Gerard since he first became ill nine years ago.
The 50-year-old former Haringey Council worker had to quit work after being diagnosed with diabetes in 2003, which has since left him blind.
He also suffers from osteoarthritus in his hips, pelvis and spine, and requires dialysis three times a week due to renal failure.
Mrs Bolden-Lamb told the Journal she was “forever fighting the system” in her attempts to get support from the council for Gerard’s care.
Following an assessment of the couple’s financial affairs, Haringey Council ruled that they would have to pay £90-a-week for a carer to visit them at their home.
But Mrs Bolden-Lamb insists they are unable to afford the council’s charge and rely on a family friend to look after Gerard when she goes to work as a part-time cashier at Waitrose in Crouch End.
She criticised the financial assessment process, arguing that it doesn’t take into account a number of monthly outgoings, including utility and food bills, insurance plans and loan payments for the installation of a new heating system.
After paying all their bills, Mrs Bolden-Lamb said the couple were left with just £80 to live on each week.
She added: “There needs to be a bit more flexibility [in the financial assessment], taking into account everything. I could probably afford to pay £40 a week if I didn’t take Gerard out.
“If it wasn’t for Gerard’s friend I think I would be in St Ann’s myself - it hasn’t done my mental well-being any good fighting the system.
“I like going to work because it’s my respite, I’ve reached a point where I just want to bang my head on the wall.”
A Haringey Council spokeswoman said the couple were financially assessed using a “national framework” set by the Department of Health (DoH), which found they were capable of paying a “proportion of the care package”.
She added: “They declined to pay, which is their choice. However a consequence of their decision is that a paid carer was not available to them.”
A DoH spokeswoman said it was up to “councils to decide whether or not to set charges for non-residential social services”.