I was living in France and running my own restaurant when my mother unexpectedly became ill. She had abdominal and back pain which was later confirmed as a blockage in her kidney. As mum appeared to be really unwell and was admitted as an emergency patient to our local hospital I felt it necessary to drop everything in France and be at her bedside. Although I am from a large family, mum and I have always had a close bond.

After my arrival it became very clear that mum would not be able to return to live with my sister as the accommodation was unsuitable for her ongoing medical and mobility problems. In all honesty, mum had been trying to get me to agree to return to the UK for a few years but as I was enjoying my life in France, although very tough at times, I continued to resist. Now however it was time to step up.

Mum had always said that she would not go into a home of any description and as this was her wish then I wanted to ensure that if possible as a family we would adhere to this.

Whilst mum was in hospital my eldest daughter who was visiting saw a notice with information about Involve Carers. She promptly input the internet address and did a bit of research which she then passed on to me. I knew that I would need some support if I was going to “walk away” from my life in France and care for mum, even if it was for a short time!

The friendly and compassionate and informative service that I received right from the start still continues today. I had no idea how big a strain that this sort of endeavour can/does have on not only my mother and daughter relationship but the relationships with my other siblings. Quite quickly I came to understand that not everyone is cut out to do this, nor should they be forced to do it out of love or duty. I also found that individuals are not failures if they are unable to care for a loved one - they are just human! We are not all built or wired up in the same way. Even those that are able to care for their loved ones have their “off” days when that mountain seems too high, too hard and too tiring to climb. That’s where Involve comes in - there’s always an ear to listen and a voice to talk you through your low points, suggest ways to alleviate your stress, offer great ideas of ways forward, suggest places to go for support or offer encouragement to keep going (if that’s what you want to do). The support that’s been offered and gratefully received by both mum and me has been fantastic. It has included referrals to OT and the Local Authority for mum for to have equipment that will enable her to have a better quality of life.

To enable me to have some time away from the home during the week, Involve arranged the referral to Crossroads who fill one slot and Involve support the second slot so that I’m able to attend Zumba classes.

The support in regard to financial matters has been excellent. I have had assistance in completing all the necessary paperwork to get both Attendance and Carer’s Allowance. It’s not that I’m incapable of completing these things myself, it’s just with everything else involved in my caring role it’s about having the right head-space and the energy to fight through all the bureaucracy that at times is severely lacking!

Fortunately there is the existence of Involve Carers to take the strain and the pain and also offer alternatives and solutions that I didn’t even know existed!