My latest column for the ME Association’s magazine – ME Essential – has hit the doormats of subscribers:
I’ve been considering how much I’m worth lately.
Indeed, how much are any of us worth?
Don’t worry, I haven’t been getting too philosophical – that is not really my style. But thanks to Carers UK’s revamped website and a nifty new carer calculator feature, I can now confirm my caring role for Rachel is worth £45,990 a year.
It should be pointed out that this is a rough calculation, based on an average amount of time I spend caring for Rachel each day.
The calculation does not take into account the fact I work full-time and that on certain days I work from home, or I pop back during the day to help out if Rachel is struggling. It also doesn’t include aspects of caring that are impossible to quantify and indeed assign a monetary value to. This includes those difficult mornings when Rachel is struggling with her ME/CFS but I’m due in the office for a series of meetings so I have to head off to work – what are those feelings of helplessness, frustration and worry worth?
It also fails to consider perhaps the most valuable aspect of my role – the quality of care I provide.
I’ve never been one to make idle boasts, but I’m pretty sure that no amount of care provided by any local authority or outside agency could match the quality of care I provide for my wife. I’m not motivated by money when it comes to caring for Rachel, or whether I tick certain boxes on a to-do list, I do it simply because I love my wife and will do whatever it takes to help her.
So as nifty and as important as the carer calculator is as part of a campaign to highlight the massive contribution we make every year – around £119bn and rising – there’s no monetary value that can be placed on the role I undertake
Of course caring is worth it (in answer to my own question). But it seems we will have to continue to fight to prove our value and worth as successive Governments have proved excellent at dishing out meaningless platitudes but incapable of providing any realistic and practical support for carers.
They have also proved incapable of listening, but that’s a frustration most groups in society will understand – not least, I suspect, the ME Association and those with ME/CFS.
I had been considering this whole “worth” issue before the calculator popped up.
I am job hunting as the publicly-funded organisation I’ve worked with for the last few years will see its budget withdrawn completely at the end of July. I consider myself luckier than most as I’ve plenty of advance warning and a contract that will run through to the final closure, giving me time and space to find a new job.
Yet I have quickly found how competitive it is out there in the job market these days. More importantly, this is the first time I’ve actively job hunted whilst being a carer. It provides a new perspective and a whole new set of requirements when searching for my next carer move.
I want a job that: complements my caring role; provides a certain degree of flexibility when I need it; allows me to switch off and concentrate on more important things like Rachel; and furthers my career. I want a job that I will enjoy.
I want to work. I want to make a contribution. I want to prove my worth to an employer. I want to juggle my career with my carer role.
I want everyone to value my abilities as a writer, journalist and communications professional, as well as my worth as a carer.
I want. I want. I want. But is any of that too much to ask for?
I really am not one to blow my own trumpet, but I knew my worth as a carer long before Carer UK’s calculator arrived.