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Moray widow who “paid a high price” for fighting to get “slowly dying” daughter care she needed praises Quarriers

By Lewis McBlane

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THE struggles that Moray’s unpaid carers face have been highlighted by a local mum who faced a “desperate” fight to save her daughter’s life.

Miriam Connor praised the efforts and support of Quarriers during a difficult period caring for her daughter.
Miriam Connor praised the efforts and support of Quarriers during a difficult period caring for her daughter.

Miriam Connor said that, despite authorities upholding her complaints as she tried to find her daughter the right care: “We paid a high price for rattling that cage.”

Finding the right diagnoses for her daughter’s complex health needs took years, Miriam said, and she struggled to cope during the distressing period.

"We were desperate, we knew that without help that she was slowly dying,” she said.

Doctors initially thought Miriam’s daughter had a neurological disorder, however this was retracted and she was diagnosed with adrenal gland disorder Addisons.

Miriam said a key turning point in her life came after she visited her GP and said: "I'm not coping, what do I do?"

Her GP encouraged her to contact Quarriers, a charity which supports unpaid carers among other groups in Moray.

As she worked to get her daughter the right medical care, Miriam said, support from the Quarriers Carer Support Service was “vital to keeping her safe”.

“I thought I had better try Quarriers because I knew I needed help,” she said.

"I am a widow; I was scared to ignore the doctor’s recommendation as a single mum. If I am honest, I didn’t expect much from Quarriers.”

Working with the charity, Miriam created an Adult Carer Support plan.

She said: “I must mention, because it mattered so much, that the first question of the assessment was: ‘Are you prepared to continue to care for this person?’

“Well, it’s my girl, of course I am.

“But I can’t describe how much it meant that someone hadn’t already decided that I had to do everything.

"Every single time they asked me that – it meant the world to me.”

She added: "It’s so important that there is a right to say no.”

Receiving help from Quarriers also meant Miriam was awarded the Severe Disability Premium, providing her with extra cash to support her daughter.

There are almost 16,000 unpaid carers in Moray providing support for a friend, neighbour or family member due to a condition or disability.

Under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 unpaid carers have rights, and Quarriers works to raise awareness of them and offer relevant support and advice.

The group can also offer professional counselling, help to access respite and signposting to professionals who understand carers’ situations.

Sandi Downing service co-ordinator at Quarriers Carer Support Service (Moray) said one in six will have an unpaid caring role in their lives.

“A lot of people don’t see themselves as a carer,” she said.

“They see themselves as a son, daughter, wife, husband, partner doing what needs to be done.

“But they suddenly realise that they are spending more and more time worrying about that person and caring for their needs.

"If carers don’t look after themselves, then two people need support, not just one.

"Our staff team, many of whom have been carers themselves, are here to help.

"If you are an unpaid carer, get in touch and let us find support that makes a difference."

Quarriers has provided Miriam far more than just knowledge and advice, she said.

The charity provided Miriam with an e-bike which has helped her to get outdoors and improve her own wellbeing.

And, Miriam said, her visits are a vital chance to connect with those who understand her situation.

She added: “It feels like a friend or sister saying: ‘Hey, are you ok?’

"I love being part of the solution, and it’s always lovely to interact with the Quarriers folk.

"I walk away from Quarriers feeling a little bit more whole every time.”

Unpaid carers can self-refer to Quarriers Carer Support Service (Moray) by clicking here.

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