Ipswich: I’m so scared

IPSWICH: Each week 77-year-old Joyce Smith gets just a few short hours respite from the gruelling daily regime of caring for her stroke-victim husband.

Now the most loyal and loving of carers fears her help could be pulled from under her due to the council’s proposed cuts.

And so worried has she become, that she took time out from caring for her stroke-victim husband of 55 years, to write a powerful and poignant letter to The Evening Star.

We print her letter in full below.

Joyce Smith, in reality one of the stalwarts of our community, is terrified her weekly respite will cease, a prospect so bleak she dare not even imagine it.

“I don’t know how I would go on,” said Joyce, who has not had a full nights sleep in five years.

Mrs Smith, of Chantry, is the full-time carer for husband, Derek, who has suffered four strokes.

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He is reliant on his wife to meet his every need and she gallantly carries on, looking ahead to the following Tuesday when her husband is cared for at a day centre based at the Hawthorn Drive care home – a home that is under threat as Suffolk County Council reins in spending.

“We have to look after each other, that is what you do,” said the defiant pensioner, determined to remain loyal to her frail husband.

“He doesn’t realise how demanding he is, he doesn’t think he is any trouble but some days whatever I start, he calls for me.

“It is hard for him, he is too proud to admit it. He doesn’t want to see himself a nuisance and he isn’t but it builds up and I look forward to that little time when there is no demands on me.”

Some mornings Mr Smith wakes as early as 2am and his wife has to get up and help him onto the stairlift, take him downstairs and make him comfortable before returning for another few hours of snatched sleep before carers arrive to help wash and dress him.

“There are people worse off than me,” she said, reluctant to admit that caring for her husband is a burden. “I just need a few hours to myself, time to go shopping and to clean the room that he spends most of the day in. If they do close it, I don’t know what I will do.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “All 16 care homes are being considered as part of the proposals. There is a public consultation occurring at the moment and all details of this are on the county council website.”

She explained that the day service is separate but was unable to confirm details about its future.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to you about care home cuts. I am in my late seventies and look after my husband who has had four strokes. This has left him only able to do a few steps, gets his words mixed up and unable to write.

I have two carers in the morning to wash and dress him. One day a week he goes to the day centre on Hawthorn Drive. It used to be on a Friday but government cuts mean it is now closed then. So he goes on a Tuesday.

This means I get a few hours much needed break. I can relax knowing he is being well looked after by the caring and hard working staff. I never get a whole nights sleep, so this break is a life line to people like me and if it were to close I don’t know how I would carry on.

Yours faithfully Mrs J Smith

The Evening Star is pledging to fight for the Joyces of this world and we salute her as we tell her story. Do you know of someone else who’s plight needs highlighting – tell The Evening Star. Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN e-mail eveningstarletter@eveningstar.co.uk