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Carer Blog - Angela

Coronavirus shielding as a Carer

It’s a strange time at the moment, a time we have never experienced before, a time the majority of people did not really take seriously until lockdown was put in place.

At first, I was classed as a key worker and providing up to 24-hour care for our daughter Maddie. As Maddie was eligible to still attend school I could continue to work, however not for long as soon I was identified as ‘vulnerable’ myself and advised to shield for 12 weeks.  So, I made the decision that Maddie would shield at home with me.

I wanted to find a way to make sure that both she and I could benefit from the situation of being shielded and overcome the challenges that come with being together 24 hours a day for 3 months!

We are an extremely close knit family and I often feel that Maddie and I share the same personality, but she is getting older now and I have to understand that although I must be near her to provide her care in all aspects from safety, feeding and continence, she may not want me around her all of the time!

We are very lucky to have a fair-sized garden and fortunately over the past few years we have carried out work on it that makes it a useable garden for all of us.

Maddie rarely participates in any gardening maintenance, however, enjoys her time outside more than being inside.   We have created various zones around the garden in which she can relax, listen to music, watch a film, use her iPad and each zone is a sensory garden in which all 5 senses can be used. Plants have been used to activate Maddie’s senses, whether that is sitting in her basket chair over a bed of chives or swinging over the mint plants, making her chilled and relaxed and at the same time.

Our whole time during the day is spent outside, from bubble machines and music whilst I potter around, to making Pizza in the vegetable garden from scratch and eating together al fresco when it is lunch time.   I’ll admit the weather has helped matters over the past weeks, but even if the weather is not that promising it will offer a different sensory experience, so we will still spend time outside.

Luckily during this time, I am able to work from home as I have an extremely supportive working environment.  Working has played a huge part in distraction from shielding and allowing me to mentally focus for a time, taking me outside of four walls and the garden.

I can work in each zone Maddie is in.  Knowing she is safe and relaxed in an environment which provides fresh air, bird song and the smells of wafting plants allows me some time for myself and takes my mind off to somewhere it loves to be, maintaining and adding to our garden space.

So, we are both getting the same sense of wellbeing together but slightly apart, I can see her and she can see me.  I am not in her space and she is not in mine.  She is able to do what she enjoys and I am also able to enjoy my time outside, almost taking me away from a direct caring role - even for just a short time.

A time when I can think about different things, focus on the wildlife, take in the garden smells, listen to the neighbours in their gardens and get the needed jobs done.

For me this time has been challenging as all forms of respite have stopped and it is very easy to get down and frustrated, but I feel by enjoying the garden space we have embraced our time off together.

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