Monday 16 July 2018

Broadcaster's 'privilege' at being one of hidden army of unpaid carers

Teena Gates with her father Terry Martin at their Clonsilla home yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Teena Gates with her father Terry Martin at their Clonsilla home yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Broadcaster Teena Gates knows what it feels like to be a foot soldier in Ireland's 'hidden army' of unpaid carers.

The Newstalk and Today FM broadcaster (52) is among more than 195,000 people who are providing unpaid care to family members, according to the latest Census figures.

Gates is more than happy to care for her 92-year-old father Terry Martin at the detached home they bought together in Blanchardstown. "It's the greatest privilege of my life to be with my dad at 92," she told the Irish Independent.

While she considers herself fortunate to be solvent enough not to need a carer's allowance, since her mother Tessie died in 2010 at the age of 82, she said a black hole exists for family carers like herself who have nowhere to turn for basic advice and support.

She had a terrible scare recently when her father - digging up rhubarb in the family garden - tripped and fell on a patio stone. "All I could see was blood," she said. "He needed 14 stitches across his forehead."

The incident made her realise how ill-prepared she was for future mishaps. "He gets up to so much mischief. He climbs ladders. It's like I'm a mother with a two-year-old," she joked.

Gates said it was information that she found lacking. "I didn't know bathroom rugs are the number one cause of accidents for older people," she said. "I won't put him in a home. But I now realise I do need help."

Gates will speak at the first-ever conference for unpaid home carers and healthcare professionals - the Healthcare Assistants and Carers Conference, at the Green Isle Hotel, Dublin - on Thursday.

Irish Independent

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