One of the most difficult emotions to come to terms with after a life-changing event such as a partner suffering a stroke is the resentment one experiences after the shock wears off and the carer realises that their life has changed beyond recognition
In February 2007, Ray Abercromby-Little had a stroke. A year later he began suffering from regular debilitating seizures, increasing his needs dramatically. His wife Pat explains: ‘In 2009 I was close to breaking point myself when our lodge almoner, Len Goodyer, helped us approach the Masonic Samaritan Fund. Up until that time I was looking after Ray without any outside support.’
With the help of the Masonic Samaritan Fund, it is no longer a struggle Pat has to face alone. ‘I know several carers who have been looking after their partners for many years without a break. They are often bound by a cycle of resentment and guilt, which prevents them from seeking help,’ she says.
The application to the Fund was granted and Ray experienced his first stay in a comfortable respite care home before the end of 2009. Pat continues: ‘Although very anxious and reluctant to go there at first, he soon realised what a pleasant experience it could be and has returned on several occasions. The staff now know him well and he has always been offered the same now-familiar room and enjoys the attention of the carers and the company of the other residents.’
With six weeks of respite available annually, the support of the Masonic Samaritan Fund gives Pat and Ray an essential boost to their morale. ‘I normally try to arrange a holiday away from home. It’s a chance to recharge and get back in touch with who you really are!’
Pat admits that accepting what happened to Ray has been a huge struggle for the couple. ‘However, just having the peace of mind in knowing that Ray is being well looked after and that I can have the freedom to choose to do something that I actually want to do, has helped enormously. It’s an invaluable lifeline.’
More than six million people in the UK are carers – around one in eight adults. If you, or someone you know, is caring for a loved one and would value a period of respite, please get in touch with the Fund.