Looking After Mum Review | Young Carers | BBC Children In Need Special |
Four young carers; Tom, Joe, Antonia- Rae and Kashanna were followed to document their lives as young carers to their loved ones for 6 months. The intriguing documentary showed the ups and downs of young carers.
In Stockport, brothers Tom (10) (who wants to be a Doctor) and older brother Joe (14) are the main carers for their mum who has liver disease. Their dad is mostly at work, Vicky (34) has been waiting for a liver transplant for a couple months. There are over 7,000 people waiting for organ transplant in the UK and may take up to a year to find a donor.
“Since i was born my mum has always been poorly so i have not known any better” -Tom
When Joe was asked if he gets worried about his mum, he said..
“Yeah, i get Eczema all at the back of my legs when i get sort of nervous or i am worried about something. Tom gets stress balls in his stomach, that’s when we know he’s sort of panicking. So we know when one of us is worrying. – Joe
Tom continued by saying if he was really worried, he would talk to a friend rather than an adult. Because they would ask him to talk about it but he felt like he already knew what he was worried about and didn’t think they could do anything to help him anyways. For some young carers they may feel much better talking to someone their age as it could make them feel more comfortable and less judged.
Tom followed his mum Vicky to an hospital appointment he said he liked going with his mum because if he stayed at home he would be worried. As the Doctor is talking to Vicky about her health she makes numerous glances at Tom. It was beautiful yet emotional to see her protective motherly instincts on display. Even though their were talking about her health issues she was still concerned about her son’s reactions.
“..people who’s mums and dads aren’t ill they probably just take everything for granted”- Tom
Tom is later seen helping his mum with her feeding regime due to rapid weight loss, he injects her ‘milkshake’ into a syringe which then goes through her nasal tube. Tom and his brother both agreed it made them upset when people stare at their mum with her nasal tube. They suggested telling people to stop staring at her as they could only imagine how she may be feeling being stared at.
The boys were able to take a 4 day break at a camp for young carers, which was funded by the Children In Need. It is extremely rare that young carers get a break from their caring duties, and when they’re given the chance most young carers hate that fact that they will have to leave their loved ones at home. But with most Carers Centre, they may provide a professional carer to stay with the young carer’s loved one until the young carer comes back home.
It’s good because you get a rest [talking about trip] but then you don’t see mum. Which is bad! – Tom
Vicky expressed that she did not want them to know that she was feeling poorly while they were on their trip, because she didn’t want to ruin the fun they were having. But she then said they would know she was unwell when she picks them up. Young carers are very alert and can spot the smallest things that others may not notice. Later on in the documentary Vicky was recovering from an infection. Tom gave her a cup of water and gave a kiss on the cheek, which was so lovely to see. Carers are the most selfless people, they can be tired, frustrated or unwell all of that gets pushed to the side for their loved one and others.
“If i had a magic power it will be to cure anyone instantly, because i really feel sorry for some people who are more poorly than my mum. I would cure my mum but there’s other people out there who also need care and love and stuff. So if you like wizzed them with a magic wand and they will get better and stuff” – Tom
In the last scene found out what happens to Leslie with her wait for a Liver transplant (watch below)
11 year old Antonia- Rae lives in Worsley with her mum, who had a stroke 9 years ago leaving her paralysed down her right side. She was in hospital for 4 1/2 months, it took her about 6 months to remember her daughter’s name, and calls her a miracle as she said she would have died if wasn’t for Antonia- Rae. When Leslie is watching Antonia- Rae ironing she says:
“It’s hard, i’m the mum i’m the one who’s suppose to be doing all this, it’s roles reversed and it’s not nice seeing it. You think of her as a grown up and you’re not, you’re a kid. You shouldn’t be doing the ironing, you shouldn’t be doing anything for me” -Leslie
“With my mum sometimes i have to help her do the things you should be able to do yourself i have to help doing the bedding, doing the hoovering, washing up the pots, making sure my mum takes her tablets on time, helping my mum put her clothes on. It’s so much, sometimes have to help wash my mum which isn’t quite like my friends would be doing, which is quite strange”– Antonia – Rae
Antonia- Rae is shown finishing Primary School, where she attended her end of school prom. But said she was scared to leave home in case her mum injured herself while trying to do something or do something ‘stupid’. Which she later elaborated on; this year her mum was not herself (linked to problems with her medication) and tried to kill herself with a knife. This has caused Antonia- Rae to feel guilty and will stay at home if her mum gets quiet as she feels if she’s at home her mum will not be able to attempt anything harmful.
“If she was taken away or anything happened to her than i’ll just be heartbroken” – Antonia – Rae
“I’ve got a depression that at the moment it’s just controlling me and it takes all my strength sometimes to get up in the morning. It makes me angry when i have to think about what i did [while wiping a tear from her eye] ’cause i know i would never, never, ever leave her. Never! I love her too much. I don’t know what goes through Antonia-Rae’s head, i wish i did. I know that somewhere along the line i’m putting her in deep pain and it’s not good” -Leslie
Unfortunately and fortunately, the attempted suicide is what helped Antonia- Rae get identified as a young carer and was offered support. Because of her mum’s attempted suicide, Antonia- Rae said she gets flashbacks and nightmares when her mum gets depressed or when she tries to sleep. Leslie put a knife in her mouth and dragged the knife down her arm, luckily Antonia- Rae grabbed the knife off of her. Many young carers are sleep deprived due to stress they go through on a daily basis.
“Sometimes I sleep on the couch in my sister’s room to give mum and dad a break. It’s hard to sleep because I’m afraid she’ll stop breathing. It’s hard to cope with school the next day cause I’m shattered” – Amy, 12 years old (The Scottish Government | Carers and Young Carers Strategy for Scotland | 07/2010 |
Antonia-Rae is shown starting her first year in Secondary School where she is worried about getting bullied, lost and most importantly her mum. She said she will be checking up on her mum at break times.
“The fact i am going to a new school and i am looking after someone – it’s just adding on to the list of things you have to do” – Antonia-Rae
Leslie and Antonia-Rae go swimming as this is something that gets Leslie in a good mood and where she feels “free”. Antonia- Rae also mentioned that their swimming together has helped her trust her mum more. Swimming like most exercises is said to be a great stress reliever:
“For starters, it stimulates brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells; exercise also affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin that influence mood and produces ANP, a stress-reducing hormone, which helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety. But swimming, for me, seems to zap a bad mood more efficiently than even running. Swimming a good 3000 meters for me can, in the midst of a depressive cycle, hush the dead thoughts for up to two hours.” How Swimming Reduces Depression | Word of Psychology | THERESE J. BORCHARD
Kashanna (18) who works full time, cares for her mum who is blind. Bernie lost her sight in right eye from a retinal detachment and her left eye was affected by Glaucoma. Kashanna has been a young carer since the age of 4 or 5.
“From the time i learnt how to read, is reading letters and then once read i learnt to lead my mum and then cooking and things progressed from there. If my mum needs to go Doctors, have to take her, if she needs to go pharmacy to get a plaster i have to take her. Whereas other kids will be playing around in the street with balls i would be taking my mum to the corner shop, helping her pay the bills and bring her back before i even thought about going out, i would have to cook my dinner and then go out and play with my friends” – Kashanna
“It’s not protocol that your kids will help, it just happened. She shadowed me she watched what i was doing and as i saw capable i stepped back and allowed her and now adequately i know she can run her own home, pay bills , work out money. It’s because she’s lived it here with me and seen how to do it being a young carer. It has helped her to be the woman that she is and will be” – Bernie
Kashanna went on to say when she was younger she thought everyone cared for a loved one like she did. But when she got older and realised it was not the case and her caring role restricted her in many ways she started to “resent” her mum a little bit and saw her as a “burden”.
“….it sounds horrible, but that’s how i felt, i felt upset that i had to do these things and annoyed, quite annoyed that life had dealt me these cards” – Kashanna
Later in the documentary Kashanna is seen on her way to the Doctor’s to get her eyes checked. She has had issues with her eyes when she was younger when she got hit by a ball and also due to stress.
Glaucoma is caused by a blockage in part of the eye. This prevents fluid draining out of the eye and increases pressure in the eye, called intraocular pressure.– (Glaucoma | Causes | NHS Choices)
“..just need to learn to calm down and release the pressure somewhere else rather than through your eyes. Caring does have a big part in it because it’s not the fact that you are caring, it’s the fact that you worrying about caring. Because when i’m working I’m worrying about the things i haven’t done; have i cooked? have i cleaned? have i taken enough time to take the bins out? It’s simple things and they start threatening your mind and whilst you’re doing 10, 12, 14 hours of work, you’re trying to rush after other people whilst thinking of your home life “ -Kashanna
A very heartfelt moment occurred when Kashanna sang at her Church and then later broke down into tears.
“..quite a lot of the times lately i’ve just been too tired and run down to even bother saying thank you God for giving me life or thank you for waking me up. When i do manage to get to Church, it just reminds me again that although i do feel like i’m alone, i am not!”
Kashanna and her mum were seen at home having a discussion about her future, Bernie said she would love for he daughter to go back to college, get a job and then settle down with her own family. But Kashanna had other plans and said she will tell her future Fiancé that her and her mum are 2 in 1 and she had plans for her at her back garden when she gets married. LOL!
Kashanna gets her hair done by her mum, as she prepares to hit the clubs with some friends. Her Brother Courtney agreed to take over for the night. When Kashanna was asked if Courtney was not around much. Kashanna explained he is mostly out looking for jobs or to see friends. She said she did not want to put the pressure on him, as she is used to hearing ‘you’re a female’, ‘you should be the cooking, cleaning ect’ .
“I’ve gotten used to it, because life ain’t fair, as a carer you learn that earlier than usual people. You learn life ain’t fair and things are thrown your way and you just got to deal with them. When anyone asks me what’s the difference about you and me? Well, i have a blind mum, i look after her, not because i have to but because i am proud it. And as cheesy as this may sound, i am very proud of my mum. Because there’s not a lot of people they make it as a blind person and there’s not a lot of people who make it as a single parent. But my mum has gone and made it as a single parent who is blind and look at me i’m not a complete mess” – Kashanna
This documentary was well executed- a very insightful documentary! Everyone involved done an excellent job capturing these brave and lovely young carers & their loved ones. Please watch the documentary below and let me know your thoughts.