Paid a pittance for exhausting 24hr job
JACQUI Darlington is the full-time carer for son Joshua, who has a severe form of Down’s Syndrome.
The 26-year-old needs help with everything from using the bathroom to cooking and taking his medication, which he needs to stop anxiety attacks.
Jacqui, 58, was a specialist teaching assistant and then a nursery nurse but had to give it up after Joshua left school.
“We are doing a 24-hour job and what we get for it is a pittance,” she said.
“The minimum wage is all we are asking for. We are treated as cheap labour. If the millions of carers were to suddenly stop the nation would come to a standstill.
“They know we won’t because we love the people we’re looking after.”
Jacqui is a single mum and also has son Ashley, 28. When she was forced to quit her job in 2012 the family had to downsize from their rented four-bed house to a two-bed council flat in Rutland, East Midlands. Joshua has since also been diagnosed with autism.
She said: “I struggled to maintain a home, be a mum, a carer and have a career for just over six months before admitting this situation wasn’t working. I had become ill with stress.
“Reluctantly I gave up work to become a full-time carer but with that, I had to give up our home as I couldn’t afford to keep it. You just have to live on basic food and can’t have any luxuries. It’s easy to become isolated. When Ashley
Fmoved out I was having no conversation with anyone as Joshua doesn’t speak. “I became very low in mood and the doctor said ‘You just need to get out’. Joshua needs help showering, brushing his teeth and I need to make him take his medication. “He manages about four hours’ sleep a night and only that with medication. I’ve had four hours a night for 20 years. It’s exhausting. “Joshua is and always will be my beautiful, handsome son who I will continue to love, cherish and adore… even though I never got a job description. But then again, this is no ordinary job.”