Caring for more than one person in the family 

John and Bev both care for their mothers and their son Nathan, 17. The couple represents what's commonly known as 'sandwich carers' – people who care for a younger- and older-generation relative. Follow a day in Bev's life to find out how she copes and where she finds support.

A practical guide to caring

Transcript of Caring for more than one person in the family

There you are. Here's your mum's breakfast and dinner.

There. Got it.

- See you later. - See you later. Ta-ra, son.

- Shout, "Bye-bye". - Bye-bye.

- See you later, mate. - See you tonight, Dad.

(man) Every day John Dargan leaves his Manchester home to care for his mother.

His wife Bev also has to care for her mother

and they're both up at half past four every morning

because they have to care for their son as well...

(laughs)

..17-year-old Nathan.

He needs constant supervision.

One, two, three!

(man) While he plays, Bev Dargan uses the time before school

to cook for her family and for her own mother.

(Bev) These are John and Nathan's dinners and I do my mum some dinner.

My mum's on her own so I always cook her some dinner.

(man) Bev and John are part of a growing phenomenon.

They're sandwich carers,

caring for a younger and older-generation member of their family.

(Bev) I shower him and get him ready. He can't independently shower himself.

You've got to wash him down.

He wears pads at night, so...

He's a man now, he needs shaving.

It's things like that, John shaves him,

or washing his teeth he can't do himself.

He tries but you've got to do them for him.

It sounds daft but he can't blow his own nose.

He doesn't know how to blow his nose.

This is his bedroom.

I sleep with Nathan. He doesn't sleep independently.

Otherwise he's up and down all night.

He's got his telly, his video, he's got everything he needs in here

but he just doesn't sleep.

These are nappies.

To look at Nathan you wouldn't think... but at night time...

He's not in them in the day, thank God,

but he's got a bladder problem so at night he has to wear pads.

(man) Nathan has a severe learning disability and epilepsy.

Bev readies him for school.

Once he's dropped off, she'll go and care for her mother.

(Bev) I usually do a sandwich and take it down with us.

(man) And her washing.

Thank you, Daddy.

(man) They've managed to get Nathan into a successful special school.

The usual thing is dropping him off and I'll go straight to my mum's.

I like to be out in the day because I don't go out much at night time.

Just making sure everything's all right.

(inaudible dialogue)

(man) There are doctor's appointments to make, shopping to do

and prescriptions to collect.

I'm just nipping to the chemist for Mum's cough bottle

because her chest isn't so good.

That's great. See you later. Have a nice day.

(man) Once a week Bev comes here to Talbot House...

(Bev) Does he wear pads, Emerald?

(man) ..a support centre for carers run by carers.

She helps other parents deal with the stresses and strains

of caring for their loved ones.

It's very upsetting when we sit and talk about it.

We don't realise how much caring we do for our children.

At the end of the day we give our children more or less 24/7 caring

and it's really...

Sometimes we break down and cry in here because it's that hard to talk about it.

(man) Talbot House is run by Bernie Wood.

She says she's seeing increasing numbers of sandwich carers like Bev.

(Bernie) It is a growing phenomenon.

In the old days you had extended families

and it was the norm to look after your granny and stuff like that.

But now our elderly generation are living longer

through technology and medication,

but it means they're living longer with their health complaints.

(indistinct dialogue)

Cheese.

(man) Nathan has to be collected from school.

Then it's off to his grandmother's for tea and biscuits and then it's home.

(Nathan) Come on!

- Have you made me a chocolate cake? - He made this at school, John.

I love you.

(John laughs excitedly)

(indistinct dialogue)

Go in and take your shoes off.

When you're doing your caring role you've got to think to yourself

it's a deserving job.

There's not a lot of people that can do it, really.

But there are so many people who do the job itself and they do it good.

You've just got to make life the best possible. That's how I look at it.

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