Caring for Carers: How Bell Ingram’s Support Helps Me Balance Work and Family Responsibilities

Caring for Carers: How Bell Ingram’s Support Helps Me Balance Work and Family Responsibilities

My dad always called my Mum his “treasure” and in the last year of his life he rolled his wheelchair through to her room every evening before bedtime to tell her that he loved her.

Dad died before Christmas last year. He was 93 years old and had been having treatment for late stage prostate cancer. Ironically it wasn’t the cancer that took him in the end, but a chest infection that developed into pneumonia.

With the help of the ‘hospital at home’ team, my sister and I nursed him at home and he died, just as we wanted, in his own bed surrounded by family. We miss him very much.

Dad’s death was the end of a journey which began in 2022 when my sister decided to give up her job to become a full time caregiver for our parents. At this point in time our mum had just been discharged from a six week stay in hospital after developing sepsis from UTI, and dad was increasingly reliant on his wheelchair.

We did discuss moving mum and dad into a care home, but my sister decided to take a career break instead which allowed them to remain in their home. Since then, she’s taken on the bulk of the caring responsibilities, with support from both me and our cousin who lives nearby.

Mum is now 87 year old and has despite the efforts of physios, completely bedridden and still suffering from post-sepsis syndrome.

Fortunately  Bell Ingram’s flexible working policy allows me to work remotely from mum’s flat most weeks for a couple of days which gives my sister some much needed respite. Outwith the agricultural show season, which involves a lot of events management, my job as marketing manager is well suited to hybrid working. As long as I have Internet I can work from just about anywhere.

As well as the support I get from both my line manager Mark and HR manager Kirsty, I’m also a member of Bell Ingram’s Carers Group who meet every couple of months on Teams to swap information and support each other.

Here’s what an average day looks like when I’m working remotely from my mum’s:

3.30am: I set the alarm for the early hours so I can check on mum. She doesn’t sleep very well so I like to make sure that her TV hasn’t turned itself off (she loves a bit of Downton Abbey!). I freshen up her hot water bottles and reposition her pillows to make her as comfortable as possible. Mum’s often hungry so it’s not unusual to be making sandwiches or a bowl of porridge. We often look at old photos and it’s lovely to remember all the good times.

6am: Check on mum and unlock the front door to let in her caregivers.  Mum has a council care package and gets four visits a day to help with her personal care. We have a regular team of ladies on the rota, and they work in pairs.

6.30am: We’re lucky to have a small pool and gym in mum’s block of flats, so I pop downstairs for a quick swim. Exercise is important for my mental health and I enjoy this quiet time to go through my ‘to do’ list for rest of the day.

7.30am: Back upstairs to make breakfast. Usually porridge for mum, and cereal for me. She’s not a big eater these days so it’s a big win if she manages to finish her small bowl.

8am: I settle down at my home office/kitchen table to start my working day. My colleague Eleanor is an early bird as well so we kick the day off with a Teams call to go through our task list.

11am: Visit from the district nurse to take bloods. Mum currently has a vitamin deficiency (magnesium and potassium) and we need to check if the supplements are working. This is always a bit traumatic since mum finds it painful, but this time the nurse got a sample at her first attempt.

Midday: Headed out to Greggs for a frothy coffee and caramel fudge donut. Mum doesn’t have much of an appetite but can usually be persuaded by a sweet treat!

3pm: Teams meeting with the Bell Ingram Carers Group. To tie in with Carers Week we’ve invited a guest speaker from the local carers’ group in Perth.

5pm-10pm: I usually spend the evenings catching up with paperwork. My sister and I have power of attorney for mum so it’s my job to make sure all the bills are paid. Once that’s done, I tidy up, put the washing on and sort out mum’s medication for the next day. If I ask her what she wants for dinner she always says she’s not hungry, but if I make something and put it in front of her she usually manages a few bites. Tonight it was fish and chips and a bowl of strawberries.

10pm: We start mum’s bedtime routine. Arms, legs and neck are massaged with ibuprofen gel to stop cramps, pillows adjusted, medication given, lights dimmed and TV turned onto Downton Abbey. Remote control and her little bell are left within easy reach so she can ring if she needs me during the night.

Our people

Alison Lowson

Alison Lowson

Marketing Manager
Tel: 01738 621 121

About: Alison heads up Bell Ingram’s marketing and PR team. She is a marketing and communications specialist who has worked across a wide range of sectors including social enterprise, events, museums, charities, farming, law, technology, building and public sector. Previously she was a regional editor with Media Scotland, co-ordinating print and digital newspaper titles across Central Tayside. Interests: Brand Marketing, Sales and Business Development, Public Relations and Media Management, Content Creation, Newspaper and Magazine Production, Event Planning and Delivery.

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