Mina Joshi, Department for International Trade, in Whitehall
Mina Joshi, Operations Executive, Department for International Trade, shares her experience of caring for her husband during coronavirus.
I have been a carer for my husband for many years and my caring role has grown as his illness has progressed. Being a carer can be a lonely experience and this has got worse during the pandemic. My husband falls in the vulnerable group and hates being stuck indoors.
Before the pandemic we had carers visiting four times a day. However, this was reduced to twice a day following lockdown. We didn’t mind the reduction as we felt it was safer to have fewer people visiting the house. At the start of the pandemic we were both worried about how we would cope if I had to self-isolate or became ill and this affected my sleep. As a carer it can feel hard to invest so much time into caring.
Balancing work and being a carer during COVID-19
My typical day involves helping my husband with his exercises before starting work at 10am. My days seem very long if my husband needs help during the day but knowing that I am home and can make up working time later on is a real bonus. Taking breaks during the day is important and I take an hour for lunch which enables me to share a healthy and relaxed lunch with my husband.
My line manager regularly asks me how I am managing and we have agreed that I will talk to him if, for any reason, I need to take time off or feel stressed. My colleagues and team have also been very supportive.
I would look forward to going to the office as it allowed me to recharge my batteries and have some time to myself, knowing that my husband was safe at home with the carers. Now I feel that I am on duty all the time, I often feel that I have no time to myself which is draining and makes me feel like an unpaid carer.
Life at home during lockdown
My husband and I are grateful for each day we spend together. We remind ourselves to enjoy the moment as we’re both very busy when we’re working. We’re using social media to keep in touch with friends and family and we take part in prayer and meditation video conference meetings. We do gentle exercises and some gardening when the weather allows. I write a vegetarian food blog and teach cookery in my spare time and, since COVID-19, I’ve joined a couple of online cookery courses. I’ve learnt how to make sourdough bread and I’m also teaching cookery online where my husband helps out with the IT. This keeps us both happy and stimulated.
What support is available for carers?
I would recommend The Charity for Civil Servants who were a great source of support and helped with my Carer’s Passport. Last year I arranged several sessions of Mental Health Counselling through Benenden which really helped me. Everyone’s caring needs are different and it’s best to talk to your line manager to agree what works for you. My part-time working arrangements means I can devote time to my husband and also keep busy doing a job I really enjoy.