Life as a Primary Carer

How would you cope if your loved one suffered a sudden life-changing accident or illness and you became their primary carer?

Katy, our Disability Champion, was moved by the Kate Garraway: Caring for Derek documentary. A powerful tv programme detailing Derek’s return home after 374 days in hospital critically ill with Covid-19.

The documentary doesn’t sugar-coat the relentless 24-hour care required to keep Derek alive. His brain activity and mobility are severely restricted. His wife acknowledges, “He would die in a day without someone feeding him or giving him water.”

6.5 million unpaid primary carers

We see Kate Garraway navigating her way through the new reality of being Derek’s primary carer and the ripple effects through the family. There are 6.5 million unpaid primary carers in the UK in a similar situation.

Whilst Kate Garraway now has a team of brilliant care workers helping her, she says, “You don’t realise how difficult it is to get help until you’re in a crisis situation.” She continues, ‘the Social Care system is complicated and you have no idea how to get support or what is funded and what you have to pay for yourself.”

Don’t give up

Kingsway CareGiver supporting Katy with her studies

Our Disability Champion, Katy was born with Cerebral Palsy and empathises with Derek having to come to terms with his new life being dependent on others for his care. She also feels for his wife that married someone loud and vibrant and now finds her life turned upside down. She’s learning to live with her near silent husband with severe mobility issues. Despite the support of friends, family and work colleagues she feels lonely and exhausted.

Disability Positive

Many found the documentary too sad to watch but Katy (our Disability Champion) saw many positive aspects. The small improvements Derek made, his ability to smile and hug his children. His mind is still there. She advises people that are dealing with a life-changing accident, illness, stroke or dementia, not to give up on the person.

Katy advises, “You need to adapt to how the person is now and how they will be in the future rather than dwelling on who they were. Empathise with the person feeling trapped in his body and focus on how to get him better. Celebrate the small improvements. Reassess what he needs and provide support to the family trying to cope with their new life too.”

Thank you to both Kate Garraway and Katy for shining a light on living with severe disabilities and being dependent on 24-hour care.

Kingsway Care can help

Kingsway Care is experienced in helping families through a crisis and providing the support they need. If you need help, please contact us on 01273 077444 or email:

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