Carers Week at the moment - "an annual awareness campaign celebrating and recognising the contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers who look after an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend".
Following the birth of our daughter and a period of maternity leave, my wife went back to her job at a local arts centre for two days a week. This had always been the plan up until The Child went to school full-time - we're lucky to have two full sets of healthy Grandparents who live nearby and who are only too happy to look after their Granddaughter!
The fact that her return to work coincided with RELAPSE 2012: Electric Boogaloo, coupled with the fact that our daughter is likely to be our only child, subsequently meant that Mrs D decided to step back from her career and concentrate on being a full-time Mum.
My wage is marginally bigger than hers was, plus she thought if she could run the house and do all the boring HOUSE-KEEPING stuff that we used to have to do at the weekend, it would enable me to rest up if required. And if I did feel OK, we would be able to do NICE STUFF as a family.
Obviously, living on one-wage is not without its constraints and issues but the fact is, it works us (most of the time) - we cut our cloth accordingly (but don't often go without).
I don't think Mrs D would ever have called herself my Carer by choice (more of a 1950s Housewife) and my care requirements are (at the moment) minimal - as long as I'm not knee-deep in relapse, that is. And when that's the case (touching wood furiously), the one wage we have coming in could... well, STOP coming in.
That's always been at the back of our minds, so we were intrigued to read about Carer's Allowance in this article in The Guardian last year.
As I'm currently receiving Disability Living Allowance with a 'care' component at the 'middle' level, we found that we did qualify*. Plus Carer's Allowance can be backdated for up to three months if you began caring before you applied.
So do make sure you claim your carer's allowance if you are eligible!
(obviously the Coalition Government - and really, Lord, why are
we still here? Is this really the best of all possible worlds?? - is
trying to shave off as much as they can from the benefits budget - so
some or more likely ALL of the above may change over the next year or so.)
* AN ASIDE - I was instructed by numerous health professionals to fill in my application for DLA by talking about my symptoms on the worst of days - knee-deep in relapse, unable to wash, walk, prepare and carry hot drinks, etc. So that's why my care component is slightly enhanced.
To finish, this is one of my favourite songs of recent years!