Something that keeps cropping up is care.
Who cares for us and who do we care for? Where do your scales balance when it comes to giving and receiving care? Do you have equal exchanges with people or do you go to some people to be cared for and others to give care to?
Gemma has carers that visit her 6 days a week for at least 3 hours. They help her prepare her hot meal for the day, assist her with personal hygiene and getting dressed and help with housework. On some days they are with her for longer and go food shopping, into Bury town centre or to the cinema with her. She goes to the cinema every Saturday with her main carer that has been with her for 9 years. Gemma has seen pretty much everything that’s been on at the cinema, any film she likes may then have the honour of being added to her extensive (alphabetised) DVD collection.
Recently Gemma had to change care companies at very short notice due to her previous company having to close down. The care crisis that you read about in the news is very real and present in Gemma’s life.
Luckily Gemma’s main carer could transfer to the new company and keep working for her. However since that change Gemma has had several different carers whilst the new company quickly try to fill the gaps left by the previous provider. This means that Gemma has had new people coming into her home, cooking her food, helping her shower regularly for the past month. You can imagine the emotional stress of having to allow people you don’t know into your personal space. Gemma has coped remarkably well with this recent shift but it can often leave her feeling angry and vulnerable when she has a change in the people caring for her.
Doing this research together has made me think about how Gemma is really used to being cared for in a way that I have never experienced as an adult, and don’t think I’d be comfortable with. I find Gemma’s ease with her body remarkable and I’m quite envious of this is some ways, yet it is also something that concerns me.
It’s also made me aware that despite caring for Gemma in lots of ways, I rarely allow or ask her to care for me. I’m not sure why this is but it’s something I’d like to change. There is no-one in my life with a better DVD collection, cuddle or supply of chocolate than Gemma. And often that’s all I need.
This week we had the brilliant Dan Watson come to work with us. We talked a lot about Eddie Redmayne (Dan’s worked with him, Gemma would like to…), did some improvising using touch, sang our karaoke song to Dan (Gemma made sure he didn’t join in with us) and talked about Gemma’s fear of performing on stage. Gemma’s openness to everything that’s suggested keeps surprising me.
I’m learning a lot about the other people in Gemma’s life, particularly the taxi drivers that drive us to and from the theatre. Gemma’s been using the same firm for 10 years now so some of the drivers have know her for a long time. I’d never really thought about all of the people in Gemma’s wider circle that she interacts with on a daily basis. She talks about her carers a lot and I’ve met most of them at her bungalow but I hadn’t realised that there were more people that Gemma knows so well and who know so much about her life and family.
Let’s see what week 3 holds in store for us!
This week I started working on a new project with my sister Gemma. It’s the first time that she’s done research for an artistic project and the first time that she’s been in a dance studio. I’ve been doing these things for quite a while now.
It’s also the first time that we’ve done anything like this together.
I asked Hannah Buckley to join us for the first day mainly because I think she’s great, but also because she works with her sister and she has experience of working with non-professional dancers. I also thought it would probably work out better if someone else was proposing things for us to do to begin with.
We did lots of dancing and particularly enjoyed dancing like our family members. See if you can guess who this one is…