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Nairn unpaid carer ‘pushed to the limit’ in fight to become brother’s legal guardian

Getting support to allow her brother to live independently has been 'very difficult'.

Carers talking on a couch with the person they are supporting.
Reach for the stars when it comes to getting the best support for loved ones, says Susan Grigor an unpaid carer from Nairn. Image: Shutterstock.

A grandmother from Nairn has told how she was pushed to breaking point in her fight to get her brother the standard of care he deserves.

Susan Grigor had to push to become her brother’s legal guardian when their mum died suddenly in 2016.

The 38-year-old has complex needs and was placed in a care home – a move which Susan claims made his life ‘meaningless’.

With the support of Partners in Advocacy in Inverness, she was able to legally become her brother’s full-time carer and ensure he had a package of care in place.

Her brother now “has a lovely house” and the support he needs to live more independently.

Susan tells of battle for guardianship

Susan told The P&J: “My brother loves nothing more than a garden to sit out in, cycling and walking our family dog.

“He was 31 and in a care home for five years.

“He had very little routine and he had turned night into day.”

Susan had to be vetted by courts and social workers in the process to become his legal guardian.

The grandmother-of-six says the process – which was lengthened by the Covid pandemic – pushed her to breaking point and impacted on her mental and physical health.

She said: “He came to live with me, and my husband for 17 months.

“Without a loving, caring husband and family it would have been impossible.”

“It was always a fight to get him what he wanted.

“I always saw him moving in with us as a stepping stone to get him into supported accommodation.”

And she says she could not have done it without Partners in Advocacy.

She added: “I am his guardian – I am his voice, and that is a difficult place to be at times.

“There have been many meetings I have been in where I have had to go against what everyone else is saying to get the best for my brother.

“I could not have done that without the support from Partners in Advocacy in Inverness.

“My advocate was an angel.”

Employer’s support through ‘darkest days’

Mrs Grigor also praised her employer Cantraybridge College.

She said: “My employers have allowed me to go to every meeting, to every phone call.

“They have offered me support and they have helped me in some of the darkest days of my life.

“The impact of that support and care has allowed me to get the best for my brother.”

While her brother is now settled and has a package in place, Susan still fears for his future.

She added: “Every few months or so there is a funding package review and the fear is that the money for his care and home will be cut.

“It is a never-ending battle that is completely unfair on my brother, and on me.”

Community meetings provide vital support

Mrs Grigor is encouraging other unpaid carers to join her at a support meeting in Nairn.

Organiser Jennifer Campbell said: “In Highland, there are thousands of people of all ages supporting a neighbour, friend, or relative, but many aren’t aware that there is any help available to them personally.

“We want to offer support before anyone becomes overwhelmed.

“Sometimes small things can make a big difference.”

A spokeswoman for the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership said it recognises the valuable role that unpaid carers have.

She said: “We work with partner agencies to provide direct support to unpaid carers. This can range from advice and networking to direct paid support.

“When a person has the support of an unpaid carer we take into account the views and wishes of the carer as well as the supported person. Welfare Guardians are appointed through the court.

“This enables an appointed individual/s to make specific decisions on a person’s behalf if they are not able to do so themselves.”

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Within Highland, local support is available – based on eligibility.

“The council’s Welfare Support Team is able to undertake a full financial assessment of which benefits, grants and other support payments local carers may be eligible to apply for.

“The support team can be contacted by phone (free of charge from landlines and mobile phones) on 0800 090 1004 or by email at: .”

The events are free, a full list can be found by following this link.