Now 12, Josie doesn’t really think of herself as a carer but her dedication to her family is unwavering – as you’ll discover…
I never used to think of myself as an infant young carer, although I have helped look after my disabled sisters since I was four years old. In our family there’s mum, dad, and my three triplet siblings Jamie, Phoebe and Amelia who are ten.
Phoebe and Amelia are disabled. Jamie and I are healthy. I’m big sister Josie and I’m 12 ?.
Phoebe and Amelia’s brains don’t communicate with their bodies, so they are unable to walk, sit or stand or go to the toilet by themselves, basically they cannot do any of the normal stuff that most 10 year old’s can do. They can’t do anything by themselves, so someone has to always be watching them to make sure they don’t hurt themselves.
I was nearly two when the triplets were born, and mum says I started helping out when I was four. I’ve never not liked helping mum out with Phoebe and Amelia. I quite like it, it makes me feel useful, and I’m proud of how I can help.
I am given lots of jobs to do with the girls. I give my sisters water through their gastrostomies as they can’t drink from normal cups. I can also operate the minibus lift and clamp the wheelchairs in. When Mum and Dad are changing my sisters’ nappies, Jamie and I hold their hands to keep them still. When we get them dressed to go out we put their jackets on back to front and blankets on their laps
I’m proud that we can help but sometimes it does get a bit boring or frustrating if we are out shopping and we have to wait for mum to change their nappies when I want to go off and look at something else.
Phoebe and Amelia wake up a lot at night and they are LOUD! I mean, really loud. It’s ‘Mum has to apologise to the neighbours’ kind of loud. It’s hard to concentrate at school if I’ve not had a good night’s sleep because of how noisy the girls have been.
Mum always says we have to pull together as a family when we’ve all had a bad night. Life has to go on again the next day but it’s really hard when everyone is grumpy.
When we lived in the old house, if I was woken by the girls in the night I would tend to get into one of their beds to try and make them go to sleep faster. Sometimes if I got up quick enough I could settle them myself and then mum wouldn’t have to get out of bed. The hardest thing the next day would be mum waking me up for school though.
I know we are not a ‘normal’ family and we can’t always do the things my friends families do because our life is just different. But I am proud of being able to help my sisters, and I love them regardless of their disability.
When I am older my dream is to have my own coffee and cake shop that sells some books as I myself am a keen author. It would have lots of space for wheelchairs and a changing place so that my sisters could come and see me and of course other people with disabilities.
Supporting Josie and Jamie
Jamie and Josie have been wonderfully supported by the young carer team at Carers Trust Cambridgeshire.
They meet other children in similar circumstances and it gives them an opportunity to express their thoughts, be understood and also feel valued for their caring role.
They love going on the outings and having the chance to enjoy themselves without having to think about looking after their sisters.
Their school is also supported by Carers Trust Cambridgeshire and the Young Carers in Schools programme which, in turn, allows their classmates to acknowledge and understand their situation. Carers Trust have funded a few trips for the family including Warwick Castle.