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National Carers' Week feature

Janet Gregory, of Sandling Way, Iwade, is a carer for her mother, Maisie Finch, 92.
Janet Gregory, of Sandling Way, Iwade, is a carer for her mother, Maisie Finch, 92.

This month saw National Carers’ Week, which aims to recognise the work the six million carers in the UK perform. Janet Gregory, 62 is one of the 11,000 people in Swale who care for family members. Emma Grove speaks to her to find out how she copes ...

Janet Gregory took early retirement six years ago to care for her elderly mother, who lives at home with her in Sandling Way, Iwade.

Janet and her partner Bob Phillips sold their smaller home and Janet’s mother Maisie Finch sold her bungalow so the three of them could move to a bigger, more suitable house.

Mrs Finch occupies the ground floor and Janet and Bob live upstairs.

Janet spends her time running her

mum’s side of the house – cooking, cleaning, housework and laundry.

Mrs Finch is 92, and has suffered heart failure and arthritis which reduces her ability to get around.

Janet said: “I’m an only child and mum always cared for me so having her here seemed the natural thing to do. It’s easier than her living elsewhere – it works well because we live separately. Mum still has her independence but I’m around.”

Janet is a dual carer. She also looks after her 38-year-old daughter Lisa Gregory.

Janet visits her twice a week to care for her and organises things for her such as making decisions and arranging finances.
Lisa is cared for in a home in Maidstone and has severe mental problems.

Janet also has another daughter, Melanie Brown, 36, who has two children, and Janet says looking after her grandchildren helps her to cope.

She said: “Because I’m an only child I don’t have other family members who give me support.

“It’s a real pleasure to look after the grandchildren – it’s a blessing and they help keep me on an even keel.

“I was beginning to feel quite overwhelmed with the caring roles and I was missing my professional life – being around colleagues.

“It can be very isolating being at home and it’s difficult, wearing and tiring.”

Janet said it is for this reason she became an Iwade parish councillor last year and is involved with lots of community groups.

She added: “It helps to give me other dimensions.

“I’m involved with planning on the parish council which is very therapeutic. I feel I’m doing something outside the home and it’s like being back at work.”

Swale Carers' Centre

Janet is involved with several carer support groups in the area.

She has been a member of Swale Carers’ Centre for about four years and is involved with the ladies’ group there which runs to support cares.

Janet said it’s great to have the group as many of the members are all in similar positions so they can offer each other mutual support.

Swale Mindset Carers is another carers’ support group which Janet is part of.

Visitors from a group called Crossroads also come and visit Mrs Finch for a few hours a week.

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