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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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Simone embraces caring role during Carers' Week

Carers are often the unsung heroes who spend time caring from friends, relatives or complete strangers.

During Carers Week (June 13-19) Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust is highlighting carers’ contribution to patient care and wellbeing.

Simone Daniel is a busy single mum, who has just completed her first year at Birmingham City University, and also works part-time as a classroom assistant.

That would be enough for most people to juggle, but the bubbly 29-year-old is also a live-in carer for her maternal grandmother Daisy, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2003.

Simone is not alone, as her nine-year-old daughter Rael also gets involved in her great-grandmother’s care through various activities such as baking, colouring, and gardening.

She said: “I’m a single mum so I’m used to juggling lots of different things, whether it’s the school run, after school activities or everyday jobs like cleaning and shopping. I’m not superwoman, I’m just looking after my family.”

Nearly six million adults and 175,000 young people are registered carers in the UK. In the West Midlands there are more than 558,000 carers, with an estimated 100,000 in Birmingham and 21,000 in Solihull.

Our trust works closely with carers’ centres in Birmingham and Solihull, as well as our own carers’ groups where people can share their experiences and support each other.

Simone, the primary carer from family network of carers, moved into Daisy’s Small Heath home after her grandfather died in 2009. She keeps notes on her grandmother’s appointments and medication, as well as observations on her activity, diet and moods, so she can keep relatives up-to-date with her condition.

Simone, who’s a member of the Dementia Council and our trust’s carers forum, added: “I see my role as a professional one, rather than an add-on. .However, I don’t see it as ‘work’ because it feels so natural.”

However Simone admits some days are tough but she believes they have a good bond. “You don’t know how much you can do until you really push yourself,” she said.

“Rael doesn’t really have a ‘carers’ switch, at her age she still sees it as spending time with granny and she loves that.

“Unlike some young carers Rael isn’t withdrawn or embarrassed about what she does. In fact she’s very proud to tell her people about how she helps me with Daisy’s care.”

Simone, who is a member of the Dementia Council and our trust’s carer forum, urges carers not to be afraid to seek support and information.

When Daisy was diagnosed with dementia, Simone turned to the internet “to find out as much as I could” about caring for somebody and what support was available.

“There is so much help out there. It’s there if you want it, you just need to know where to go, where to look,” she said.

“I’m usually up about 5.45am and hit the hay around 11pm, so I do burn the candle at both ends but I do look after myself by eating well as I have to maintain my energy levels,” she said.

“Rael and I also visit friends at weekends and sometimes I have home help in so I can spend time with friends or just go to a salsa class. Being a carer doesn’t mean you need to shut the door on life.”

For more information or to request an interview with Simone, please contact Emma Brady on 0121 301 1298 or email emma.brady@bsmhft.nhs.uk.

Simone embraces caring role during Carers’ Week