Caregiver Learning to Get Along with Pressure

For the past few decades, Kuen, a 60-years old lady, has always been looking after her son who suffered from mental illness. However, as age grows Kuen feels more and more tired for taking care her son. Her son is nearly 40 now and was first diagnosed with psychosis since his secondary school. He had been very emotional and did not feel like going to school. He had problem getting along with schoolmates and even showed tendency of violence thus had to be sent to hospital. Evaluated by social worker as his emotional fluctuation might cause impact on his family’s safety, Kuen took the advice and applied for her son to be arranged into halfway house.

Nevertheless, waiting for vacancy in halfway house sub-vented by the Government could be endless. During the waiting period, Kuen had to send her son into private halfway house. To her surprise, private organization was high in charges but low in transparency. The poor living environment and diet had made her son feel worse, "There was no bedside table and the toilet board was also damaged. My son was always in hunger and I had to prepare extra food for him.”

Fortunately, Kuen’s son was finally arranged into the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association Sun Chui Halfway House and his situation became better. "He slowly got used to the life in Halfway House and established his own living habit. He also learned the concept of financial management and joined different hobby groups. I often visited him and we had very good relationship at that time.”

However, Kuen’s son could not accommodate to living with other people for long and requested to leave the House and rent a place to stay alone. Although Kuen did not agree with him, she could not persuade him to change his mind and had to follow his will. Now, her son is living in a room with only 30 square feet area. He gets out only for dining and has very little opportunity to contact with people. His health is much worse than before which increases his mother’s worry. There is not much left for Kuen to do but only to visit her son periodically and offer necessary support when needed.

The experience as a caregiver for decades had made Kuen feeling helpless and exhausted. In addition, another family member suffering from serious sickness that required frequent accompany have put extra responsibilities and pressure on her shoulders. Luckily in early years when her son was staying in New Life Halfway House, Kuen got to know the Family Support Service offered by New Life. Even though she was too busy with family issues to join the group back then, she decided to participate into group activities now under the encouragement of social workers. Kuen said, "In Family Support Service, we all have our own story to share. I wish to have more communication with other people with similar experience and join in different activities to make my life easier.” Through a series of handcrafting activities and interaction with other caregivers, she began to understand the necessity of taking care of her own physical and mental needs to better cope with pressure and responsibilities, and learn to build up the,and learn to build up the life of her own.