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Lynda's story

The UK’s carer crisis has left Lynda feeling so hopeless, she’s contemplated suicide. Here she explains why sharing her story with the Migration Advisory Committee is so important

Every care agency I’ve contacted has told me the same story; that they’re short on carers and cannot take on any new assignments, provide respite cover or offer regular care. They say it’s because of the new immigration rules.

Seventeen years ago, I was involved in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury at level C5/6. Since then, I have needed 24-hour live-in care in order to stay alive and live the best possible life a person with my level of injury can.

When I was newly injured, I was provided with a great team of carers through an agency.  They were with me for two to eight years. Life was achievable through the help of these carers and the care was continuous.  I was assisted with all aspects of my life, but most importantly, they enabled me to be independent. I’ve been so extremely grateful to those dedicated carers who helped me gain confidence and to believe that even being paralysed, I could still enjoy life and achieve everything I wanted to.

I’m 50 now. Everything has changed dramatically to the point where I’m now experiencing severe anxiety over my future. It has been so stressful that I’ve even found thoughts of ending my life creeping in.

The government must allow overseas carers to come and work in the UK again, so they can care and support people like me to lead a fulfilled and happy life

My partner of over nine years, Michal Sramek, is currently my full-time carer and has not had a break over the last few years due to the UK’s shortage of adequate carers.  I feel guilty every day that he has no time for himself and his family which puts a big strain on our relationship.  This is another issue contributing to my suicidal thoughts.

I feel trapped physically and mentally because I have no ‘arms and legs’ to give me the independence and freedom every human being is entitled to.

Even when carers were available, I found the quality of care had really gone down in the last few years. They used to be excellent, but now they only seem to work on instruction and don’t think for themselves. This meant I was always having to tell them what to do, which was tiring and stressful.

Care is seen as a low-grade job, with low pay and challenging working conditions – most people don’t want the hassle, they can earn more and be less stressed working in other professions. Care, and especially intimate personal care, is a difficult job. It takes a special kind of person to do it well.

I have considered employing carers directly but am faced with the same problems that the agencies are having – there are none!

Many disabled people simply cannot live without assistance from a carer, and spinal cord injured people require high level medical help from care givers as we have such complex care needs. It’s why continuity of carers is of paramount importance.

The whole of the UK care system needs immediate attention. Carers are not paid enough for what they do. There will be more hospitalisations due to incompetent or no care, which costs the NHS money. There is already a crisis, and action needs to be taken with immediate effect. How can I tell my eight-year-old niece that I can’t visit because I have no carer to help me? How can I explain that just living is hard without the care I need?

The government must allow overseas carers to come and work in the UK again, so they can care and support people like me to lead a fulfilled and happy life.