Skip to content
Skip to navigation
Email this page Print this page


Caring for the Carers

More musings from Derek Doyle - the SPPC’s ‘old man’...

I recall a man being admitted from home, settling in well and being effusive in his praise of the care he was receiving and the kindness of the nurses yet clearly he would much rather have stayed at home. Why had he asked to be admitted, I asked him. “For my wife’s sake – she was looking so weary and worried. It was the last and the best thing I could do for her!”

We all know of the many studies which have shown that most people would prefer to be cared for and die at home rather than in a hospital or even a palliative care unit. All who have worked in the community – GPs, community nurses, visiting palliative care and social workers – know something of what it means to be a carer. They experience extreme tiredness, loneliness in spite of the number of others involved, constant worry about whether they are doing the right thing or could do more and, slow as most are to admit it, resentment that they are seldom thanked but rather taken for granted especially by family members. They may have their own health problems, often age-related, to cope with and all the uncertainty and anxiety that goes with ageing.

I have to admit that only recently have I become so aware and “ knowledgeable” about carers, because our church, like many others, is starting a Carers Support Group. I had never realised how many charities there are giving free advice on aids and equipment, grants and benefits, holidays for carers, communication aids, demonstrating lifting and moving, guidance on home modifications and, in the case of our church, time spent listening as carers unburden their feelings and fears. Will it enable more patients to remain at home knowing that their family carers are themselves being cared for? Are we palliative care professionals in Scotland knowledgeable enough about what charities focusing on carers can offer to help our patients achieve their wish to stay at home that bit longer. I certainly was not aware of them. They are all only a mouse click away.

Yes – you have all spotted a problem, but let us see it as a challenge. Who will look after the patient whilst the carer is out of the house for two hours or so? Surely not insurmountable!

This blog is by Dr Derek Doyle OBE, Honorary President of the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care. Recognised worldwide for the contributions he has made to palliative care, he was the first Medical Director of St Columba’s Hospice, the first Chairman of the Association of Palliative Medicine, the founding Editor in Chief of Palliative Medicine and Senior Editor of the first three editions of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine.


More in your region
Loading ...