My Life as a Carer: Meet Patrick McCarthy

Patrick McCarthy

By Patrick McCarthy
Director, Enterprise Architecture (Foundation Services) in Digital Technology Services

On Carers Rights Day, Patrick talks about caring for his daughter Martha.

Our Director of Architecture Office & Tools services, Patrick McCarthy, is also regional chair of our internal Carers Network. On Carers Rights Day 2018, he talks about the challenges of balancing work and being a carer for his daughter, Martha.

Along with my wife, I’m a carer to Martha, our profoundly disabled daughter who is aged 11. I’ve been with Centrica for 14 years, so was already working here when Martha was born.

I say I’m a carer, but my wife is the person who spends most of the time with Martha, while I come to work as the sole wage earner. We also have a younger daughter, Orla, who needs time and attention and my wife spends the day with her and then when I get home, I take over and give her a break so it’s pretty full on. You certainly don’t get to sit down, have a cup of tea and read the paper!

One of our biggest challenges is dealing with her medical needs as Martha has ten consultants she must regularly see. That’s a lot of appointments to attend and she’s also had major surgery. Centrica has been really supportive throughout and continues to be – they have a great carers’ leave policy. If you need to go to a doctor’s appointment, you give up half a day leave and Centrica matches it. It’s just as well, otherwise I’d spend all my leave on hospital appointments! Of course, I’m lucky, I have a job that enables me to be flexible.

Like any parents, we love our daughter and have many fantastic moments with her. She’s a joy to have in our lives, but of course nobody ever signs up to be a carer. Whether you’re looking after your child, a parent or someone else, you don’t go looking for the job! That’s why our Centrica Carers Network and our UK charity partner, Carers UK, are so important to carers in the business.

Carers Network run roadshows during Carers Week and advise colleagues on support they can get from Centrica. We also put them in touch with colleagues who’ve had similar experiences – someone they can talk to. Carers UK is a great source of information and their website is invaluable. They have a phoneline to ring when you need to speak to someone and do a great job of raising awareness and money to support carers.

Today is Carers Rights Day. This is held annually to help people in their community find out about their rights as a carer, and where to go for support. Having the right information at the right time can make all the difference when you’re looking after someone.