"They don't often make the headlines" - how relatives are delivering CQC standard care for less than £70 a week
A carer who was dismissed from his job as he struggled to balance work with looking after his elderly parents is now campaigning for more rights for the city's legions of unpaid carers.
Dave Gregson, 46, is backing the launch of a Leeds carers strategy today, which coincides with Carers Rights day, as for the last few years he has been campaigning for more awareness of what carers do - day in day out - for no financial reward or recognition.
He said: "It has been one of the issues, causes and campaigns that I have been working on, with not just regards myself but others. You have not heard too much about them but you rely on them for years. They do not often make the headlines, they never go on strike, they do what they do not for money but because they are relied upon. There are no holidays or sick days, they always do it.
"If they don't do it, many of these people would require care home level of care and support - which in a care environment they would be subject to a Care Quality Commission inspection."
Care can involve tasks from shopping, to cleaning, managing utilities and bills, administering medication and personal care. Registered carers get a £70 a week allowance which is not even in line with the minimum wage and can take, at best, 10 to 12 hours of the day or around the clock care.
This is one of the main issues he has campaigned around and raised with local government and MPs. Another is encouraging employers to be more flexible with allowing staff to fit caring duties around jobs.
Mr Gregson. of Marston Way, Wetherby was dismissed in 2018 from his job as a support worker for adults with learning difficulties as caring for his parents, Terence and Rosemary, was taking more time. He also suffers with mental health issues which he manages with medication.
His situation is not unique and many other carers also have physical and mental health needs or illnesses that they put on the back burner to care for loved ones, often without help. Mr Gregson's brother has rheumatoid arthritis which makes it difficult for him to help, so Mr Gregson moved back to West Yorkshire specifically to look after his parents after his father had a stroke.
He added: "I have been doing it for some time until I was dismissed in December 2018. I registered then formally as an unpaid carer although I was doing it five years prior. Initially I was managing household items and shopping, then I took over responsibility for managing utilities and household bills, then there was medical appointments, my mother had hospital admissions so I was doing that, then there were problems at work that I was hoping to resolve but I registered (as a carer) because that was my priority.
"Since then I have been very much involved with raising awareness and the profile of unpaid carers. I was staggered by what I was introduced to and how many there are."
He also joined the call to reinstate the carers groups and forums that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions as they are "a lifeline" for thousands of people in Leeds.
Mr Gregson said: "They are very, very important and a vital link. I have attended forums and meet up groups and what I find is you meet people who are also carers from all diverse walks of life. You feel certainly part of a group and a community and a lot less isolated. The groups are a lifeline with many people, you sit and have a cup of tea and we talk about it and have a laugh about it. I can't thank them enough."
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