Informal care, or omaishoitajuus, is when a person looks after a relative in need of special care. The most common situation is when a person ages to the point of not being able to take care of themselves anymore, and the spouse or other loved one takes the responsibility of being the caregiver instead of putting them into an elderly home.
The area which is often overlooked is the 15% that take care of children. These include cases of mentally handicapped or otherwise disabled children. There are also the rarer, but equally important cases of children with serious illnesses, for example cancer. People often forget that when being caregiver of one’s child, usually the ”job” lasts for the rest of their lives, not only a few years like in many cases of being a caregiver for elderly. Now I’ll go on to introduce our imaginary example family, whose daily life we’ll be also exploring in the upcoming blogposts.
Our imaginary informal care family
Joonatan is a 5-year-old boy. He lives in Vantaa with his mother, Maria. Joonatan is a very active and curious child who likes to explore his surroundings and asks a lot of questions. There is one thing that separates him from a normal child: he has leukemia.
Maria acts as Joonatan’s caregiver. She is a practical nurse but isn’t currently working because she is staying home taking care of her son. Joonatan’s parents have divorced, but are still in contact on things that affect their son. His father lives in Kerava and Joonatan visits him every other weekend.
Joonatan’s life mainly revolves around medical visits and can’t go to kindergarten or really be in contact with the outside world. They need to go to the hospital weekly, and sometimes the visits can take multiple days.
Maria’s family lives in northern Finland, so their support group isn’t very big. Joonatan’s godmother, who lives close-by is often a big help to the family. Maria is also a part of caregiver’s support group, which provides her with peer support and a safety net.
You’re warmly welcomed to follow Joonatan’s and Maria’s daily life in the upcoming blogposts, to learn about struggles people like them are faced with and how perhaps they see the world.