Case study: Mr and Mrs Choy
Hello, my name is King Tong Choi and I am 77 years of age. I have lived in Scotland for 40 years. I was born in Hong Kong but emigrated when I was a young man to make money for my family. My wife, Shuk Han, had to stay in Hong Kong to look after our son and daughter who were very young. I could not afford to bring them all.
I was lucky. I found a job in a restaurant very quickly and learned to cook. I enjoyed my job but it was very hard work and long hours. I did not have much time to myself.
After 4 years I had to return to Hong Kong as my wife was not well. She told me that she was frightened by our neighbour burning incense and it upset her too much to watch. She had to go into hospital and I had to look after my children for six months until she was well enough to come home.
When she was feeling better I returned to Scotland and my family joined me in 1972. I was happy we were together again but my wife continued to be upset and frightened. I was working in the restaurant but I also had to look after our children. We got along ok but in 1982 my wife had to go to hospital again.
I think things have been getting worse. Now she is rude to our friends and she says they have been taking things from her. She forgets where she puts things and it makes her angry and upset. I feel bad when our friends come to our house and see what is happening. I worry that they will talk and not want to be friends with us anymore.
I do not understand what is happening to her. Maybe it is because I was not good to her in Hong Kong and this is my punishment. I do not know.
I have had to give up my job. My wife needs a lot of help now. Sometimes she cannot walk but we do not know why this is. My son tries to help but he has his own family to support.
I feel very lonely. I cannot leave her alone as I am worried about what will happen. I have to do all the housework now. It is making me ill. My eyes are bad and the doctor has told me that I will need to go into hospital. Who will look after my wife then?
A Chinese lady called me. Her name is Eliza. I remember her because she used to work at the sheltered housing where I live. She told me that she can help me because I am a ‘carer’ and this is her new job. I did not know what this word meant but she explained that because I look after my wife, I am a ‘carer’. She says she can help us with a lot of things. She is going to come and visit.
It was good to talk to somebody about how I felt. She was very friendly and she tried to take my ‘burden’ so I did not worry too much. She was kind to my wife. I told her about our problems. The doctor said my wife had an illness – I did not know the word so I gave her some letters from the hospital. She tried to explain to me what this illness was but it was very difficult to understand. She said she would try to get me some information in Chinese that would help me understand.
She told me that I could get help from the Council, from the social work department. I did not know what this was but she told me not to worry, that she would help us to talk to them.
She said that it is very difficult to look after someone with no help or support and to feel sad all the time. She knows a lot of other Chinese people who are also looking after someone. They have a group that meets once a month. Sometimes they go out for trips and sometimes people come and talk to them about how to get help. I told her that I would like to go but I cannot leave my wife. She told me it didn’t matter – that my wife could come too. She will arrange transport for us.
I have told my son about what is happening and he is happy that someone is helping us.
The social worker came to visit us at our home. I was worried as I did not know what would happen but Eliza was there and she helped us to understand. The social worker explained that my wife could go to a daycentre for one day a week so I could have a rest. I was not sure that this was the right thing to do – they do not speak Cantonese and I do not think my wife will like their food. She is very fussy and only likes me to cook for her. Eliza explained that I could go with her the first few times until I was happy. She will also go with my wife and look after her. She is also going to try and get a Chinese volunteer who will go with my wife. This makes it easier for me to accept.
I do not worry so much now as my wife looks happier. The volunteer goes with her every week and she is teaching the staff some Cantonese. It is very funny to hear them talk. Eliza and I talked a lot and I told her that I wanted to learn to play a Chinese musical instrument. When she went to Hong Kong she bought one back for me and the Carers Centre are paying for me to have lessons. This is good.
Everything was fine for a while but things became more difficult. My wife became worse and she went back into hospital.
I also had to go to hospital because my eyes were not so good and I was nearly run over by a car. I had my operation and it went well but I was told that I had to rest. I asked ‘who will look after my wife when she comes home’? I do not think I can manage very well but I do not want her to stay in the hospital. It is my duty to look after her.
At a meeting they asked me to think about putting my wife in a home. I told them that this is not our way but they said that she was too ill to come home and that it was too much work and worry for me. I was not happy with this and asked Eliza to help us.
My wife came home but she just sat in her chair. She couldn’t remember very much and I had to do everything for her. My son spoke to me and said that maybe it was time for her to go into a home. He said he would help me find a good one and Eliza would also help.
I was not happy with the treatment my wife was getting in the home. They kept losing her clothes and they gave her food that she could not eat. She lost a lot of weight so I had to cook for her at home and take in the food three times a day to feed her.
Now she is always pleased to see me and I feel better that she is getting some nourishment and the staff are treating her better. Eliza also comes to visit her.
Case study: Mrs Amina Sheikh
Hello, my name is Amina Sheikh. My husband is Mohammed Sheikh. We have been married for 16 years and have five sons. We live with my parents-in-law in a nice house in a good part of the City. The children all attend the local school and they are doing very well.
I came to Scotland from Pakistan in 1991 to marry my husband. It was hard to leave my family but we speak to each other every week and now we have a good life here. My husband's parents were very kind to me when I first came to Scotland and made sure I got to know people in our community. This was very important as my husband was working very hard and he was not at home so much. Later I had children, five boys, and my parents-in-law were delighted. They spoilt the boys but think it was ok. Now things are different.
My mother-in-law became very ill. It became so bad that she was not able to walk very well at all. She had to have five hip replacement operations, one after the other, as the operation kept on not working. In the end she had to use a wheelchair and became very depressed.
My father-in-law was very worried for his wife and then he became ill also. He had problems with his heart and he had to have a heart bypass operation. All the time my husband was working very hard so so I had to look after them. I had to do everything - cook, clean, shop, look after the children and my husband. It was very difficult but I was happy to do it.
We got some help from the social work department when they first came out of hospital. This was important because it meant that my parents-in-law could still be a little bit independent and did not have to ask me for everything. My husband could take them out in the car at weekends as we had a badge that made parking easier. They enjoyed these trips and sometimes one or two of the boys would go with them.
But then things got worse. My mother-in-Iaw's health continued to go down and I was very worried all the time. I felt that I had too much do and one day I spoke to a close friend. I was very lucky as she gave me the name of a worker who could help me sort things out. I did not call for a long time as I did not want to talk about my family's business but in the end I did call.
The worker was very good and we got more equipment to help my mother-in-law. The ramp at the front door was very helpful as I did not have to tilt the wheelchair any more and it meant my mother-in-law could get in and out more easily.
After a few months I called the worker again. She came to visit me at home when my parents-in-law were out. She was very kind to me and I told her how difficult things were. My mother-in-law has had two strokes and she relies on me for everything. Sometimes everything just seemed to get on top of me - I was always very tired and sometimes I would shout at the boys when they were playing.
She suggested that we should talk about what I needed to help me in the home. That was easy - I told her I would like to have a break every now and then but I did not know whether this would be possible I also said that I would like some practical help as I was always washing and ironing clothes and it made my back ache. It would also be nice to spent more time with my husband and children - perhaps we could have a day out together.
The worker told me that she would arrange an appointment for me to meet with a social worker to see, if there was anything they could do. I asked her if she would come to the meeting as my husband would be working and could not come. She agreed to come with me.
The social worker came to visit me at home. It was easier for me to talk here and the worker also came to support me. The social worker listened as I told them about what I had to do and how I was feelihg. it was good to have somebody to listen. They explained that my mother-in-law could go to a daycentre for older people twice a week so I could have a rest. She could also go for a break to an older people's home every 3 months for a few days She said it would be like a holiday for her and for all of her family.
I told her that I was not sure about this. How would they make sure that she was eating the right food and was able to see her friends? How would they speak to her and make sure she was alright? What if she was unhappy wanted to go home? These are questions we all want to know before we agree to anything.
She said she would speak to her manager and we could have another meeting. I did not have to decide anything immediately but I could speak to the family about her suggestions and see what they thought. She will call me in a week's time.