Rosemary and John Broad moved to Cyprus in 2002 and were “living the dream” in Rosemary’s words. They had set up a business there providing supported housing for expats. Their lives were changed dramatically when John suffered multiple strokes and seizures beginning in 2009 which left him paralysed and no longer able to communicate by speech. He has been entirely dependent on Rosemary for all of his needs since then.
The couple moving back to the UK in 2010 and spent three and a half years solely together in this time. These years were tremendously tough for the two of them. Rosemary states, “I was depressed, had no friends, it felt like we were just waiting to die. It was three and a half years of hell. I’d just be sat there at home, did things like my shopping online. I felt guilty about leaving John, felt like a nobody, and had lost my confidence”.
“When I got here, we had no furniture, I just shut everything up and came back to England on an air ambulance. We’ve been married 42 years, we would always make decisions together so that is very hard, but I’ve got through it thanks to Involve Carers”.
Rosemary found out about Involve Carers in 2013, a project which provides support to carers and helps to improve their wellbeing. Initially she was unsure as to whether she could get involved as the care she provided for John was 24/7. Involve Carers’ Manager Barbara Hagan suggested alternative care for John so that Rosemary could take full advantage of the service.
One of the first Carers’ activities she joined was their Zumba classes. Rosemary states, “I remember the first time walking in my mouth went dry and I said I’d just watch, because I was nervous. Then I started doing it with them, everyone was so nice to me and made me feel welcome”.
“I went on a Caring with Confidence course and that was hard. It was on for 7 week, and it meant leaving John with a care worker. Leaving a total stranger with my husband, he couldn’t tell them what his needs were which really worried me. But I made myself do it and made some friends there also. then after this, I went on to the swimming list. I do that once a fortnight which I love, as I used to be in the gym five nights a week with John in Cyprus, we were fitness fanatics!”
“It changed my life around. People care about me, before, I felt like a nobody. No one knows what it’s like, but after talking to other carers, we’re all different but we have something in common. We bounce off each other, we talk about different services and give each other information.”
“I knew for my own wellbeing, I needed to get out, and be in the real world. I started going to the walking groups. One time I was told we were visiting Teapot Island, the night before I was worrying about falling in the water getting on to the boat to the island. I didn’t know at this point it wasn’t actually on an island!”
“I decided I wanted to get out more with John also. I got a car so I could take him out, with him in the front seat.”
With Rosemary attending various events and services provided by Involve Carers, this has helped her role as carer for John. “We’re laughing again. The knock on effect is that John is happier. I think he was depressed. We have two little dove models in our bathroom, I put them beak to beak and said “that’s you and me kissing!” He responded by turning one of the doves around and started laughing. This makes all the difference. This morning he chased me around in his wheelchair! He’s got his sense of humour back.”
“He’s the John I married. I love him so much but I used to pity him. I used to look at him and say, “John, what’s happened to us?” We used to have a healthy lifestyle, he’d come home from work, put on the barbeque, take the dogs out, go to the gym, swim in our swimming pool.”
“It’s given me confidence and a purpose to get up in the morning. I’m smiling, I’m laughing, and it’s better for John and I, because we’re better together.”
“I now buy clothes, I used to just dress in sloppy jumpers and jeans. Maisie sent me some photographs at the flower arranging classes. When I saw it I thought, ‘that’s not me, is it? I thought “I’ve got to do something about It.” I lost a stone and a half in weight, got my haircut as it was all straggly, and felt a new me.”
“The staff are fantastic, absolutely fantastic, and supportive. They talk to you as though you are a real person. With things like Social Services or O.T. you’re just a name and number. With the Carers staff, they’re friends now. I feel like they’re there for us, it’s not a job to them, and it’s a wonderful service they’re giving us.”
“I can’t speak highly enough of the team. We are important people to them, without a doubt, when I used to think I was a nobody. I went from being the Managing Director of a supported shelter in Cyprus to becoming a carer, and I didn’t want to be a carer. I used to think a carer was someone who worked for an agency and visited people they don’t know.”