I'm Andrew and I'm the Finance Manager and Company Secretary at Signpost Stockport for Carers. I joined this wonderful charity in April 2019, having previously worked in the world of audit and accountancy, but took the decision to spend more time caring for my parents, David and Nola. Fortunately for me I was lucky enough to be appointed to the part-time role at Signpost, which has allowed me to continue my profession and also gives me the time to carry out a caring role.

Caring for Mum and Dad

When I'm not working with my colleagues at the Signpost headquarters in Heaton Moor, I do spend a significant part of my week caring for my parents. For the last five years my dad, David, has had dialysis three days a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). Since the start of the pandemic last March I've been taking him for his 7am starts and then collecting him late morning and getting him home. That's why I get to the office at 7am and also come in to collect the post on a Saturday! This has a huge impact on his week and makes him very tired on the days he goes for dialysis.

In addition to the dialysis, his replacement hip that was fitted twenty seven years ago has failed and needs replacing, but due to the pandemic has been delayed since last March, which is now causing him incredible discomfort, quite a lot of pain and has really affected his mobility. 

Fortunately I'm able to do most of the jobs around the house for Dad and make sure he gets what he needs. I haven’t yet had to put him over my shoulder and take him up the stairs and tuck him up in bed, which is what he tells me he used to do to me when I was a young lad!

My Mum Nola, sadly has terminal bowel cancer and is in the early stages of dementia, but she's living at home with Dad. She spends a lot of time in bed and finds it really difficult to manage the daily routines of life, but Dad and I help as much as we can and I think she appreciates our great British baking and cooking! The local GP has been very supportive and the MacMillan nurses at Stepping Hill have also been very good. Family friends are supportive too. I would say don’t be embarrassed about asking friends to help out, they really do want to help, but they're sometimes just hesitant about whether they're able to.

I have to say it was a great relief to take my parents for their first Covid-19 vaccination last month. It was only as I was bringing them back to the house that I realised how anxious I'd been about them catching the virus, particularly from me, no matter how careful I've endeavoured to be since the start of the pandemic. Fortunately Dad has had a supply of face masks from the beginning, because he and the staff at the dialysis unit have always worn facemasks during the dialysis procedures from when he first started going, so it wasn’t a new thing for him. In fact he showed me how to wear it properly as my first attempts weren't good enough apparently!

Mum and Dad were lucky enough to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary last week, which was a particular highlight for us as a family. Whilst we were unable to celebrate with a big party, for obvious reasons, I was able to take them a meal and a cake (not homemade) and record the cake cutting ceremony for posterity. 

Working at Signpost

My part-time role at Signpost, and the support of my colleagues, allows me to spend time with my parents every day and I find myself doing many of the things Signpost's registered carers have to do. Working at Signpost means I speak to carers every day. It gives me incredible motivation to know there are so many people out there caring for family and friends, doing such a fabulous job, in often very difficult circumstances. I know it's been particularly hard for a lot of carers during the last twelve months of the pandemic.

Looking back at my career I would say that previously there wasn’t any real acknowledgement of people with caring responsibilities, but that's now starting to change and of course Signpost are playing a key part in trying to raise awareness amongst local employers and working carers.

My tips for carers would be to try and get out for some fresh air on a regular basis and if you can, sign up for Signpost events! Getting help is really important if you can. I've really enjoyed the outdoor events we organise from a personal point of view, because it gives me a change of scenery, they're really interesting and I really enjoy the company of other carers. There are so many different characters, but we all have something in common. 

As a carer I've always thought it was important to be able to talk about your experiences with other people and have that support network around you. Since I joined Signpost and realised how many people do care, it's been a massive boost for me personally. I've found it really important knowing there are people who understand what caring behind the scenes is all about.

For support combining work and care, visit our Work With Us pages.
For more information about bowel cancer visit the Bowel Cancer UK website or the Macmillan website.
For more information about dialysis visit the Kidney Care UK website.