Lindsey Burrow has revealed the “emotional and physical” strain of caring for her husband Rob Burrow, whose life has been devastated by motor neurone disease.
Since former Leeds Rhino rugby star was diagnosed with an incurable and life-limiting illness in 2019, Lindsey has taken on the role of his independent carer, simultaneously caring for her three children and continuing to work for the NHS as physiotherapist.
“Being a caregiver is difficult and comes with huge emotional and physical challenges. I think a lot of caregivers you talk to will tell you that you lose friends,” she said.
The 40-year-old is not alone in her struggle: in tonight’s ITV documentary, Lindsey Burrow: Who Cares for Our Carers?, she explores the impact on unpaid carers in England and Wales who provide estimated value of care. of £162 billion a year. year, the equivalent of a second NHS.
Lindsey Burrow (pictured) opened up about her experience as an unpaid caregiver for her husband Rob Burrow.
“I’ve been an unpaid caregiver for almost five years,” Lindsey said.
‘My husband Rob was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2019. Since then I have balanced caring for Rob with caring for our three young children and continue to work for the NHS as a physiotherapist.
“But while I’m proud to be able to do it, it’s had a huge impact on my life.”
The couple share three children, Macy, 11, Maya, eight, and Jackson, four.
Rob, who was diagnosed in December 2019 when doctors warned he may only have two years to live, cannot feed, dress or go to the bathroom on his own.
In addition to his hectic schedule, last year Lindsey ran the Leeds Marathon, which Rob co-founded with his best friend and former team-mate, rugby coach Kevin Sinfield, to raise awareness of motor neurone disease.
Last month, the Prince of Wales, 41, awarded Rob and Kevin a CBE for their efforts to raise awareness of motor neurone diseases.
On her mission to uncover the hidden demands unpaid carers face in their everyday lives, Lindsey visited 80-year-old Dame Arlene Phillips.
Arlene cared for her later father, Abraham Phillips, for 12 years while he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, which eventually meant he could no longer recognize Arlene.
At the time, Arlene was juggling her father’s needs with her West End job on Starlight Express and raising her two daughters.
“I didn’t feel supported at all,” Arlene said. ‘I try not to think of myself as stupid, but I became one of the bewildered ones.
“What I became was a mess, an angry mess.”
Arlene highlighted that those taking on unpaid caring roles have to learn on the job, saying: ‘Where is the care training? People just go and do it.’
Former Leeds Rhino rugby star (pictured left) is now unable to feed himself, go to the toilet or dress himself.
Dame Arlene Phillips (pictured) appeared on the show to talk about her experience caring for her late father.
The 80-year-old told Lindsey she was juggling her job in the West End, raising her two daughters and caring for her father.
Arlene’s father, Abraham Phillips (pictured), suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and could no longer recognize his daughter’s face.
And he added: ‘Where is all this information going to come from? It’s like you enter a mysterious world and what you discover is that your world has been turned upside down.’
Elsewhere on the show, Lindsey caught up with Chrissie, whose 17-year-old son Alex was born with a rare genetic disorder and requires a high level of care.
Chrissie revealed that services in her area have been cut and never recovered from austerity policies.
Previously she took Alex to a day center for disabled children called The Belvidere Center once a week, allowing for a period of rest for herself.
Alex is now only able to enjoy the center once a month due to cuts, meaning Chrissie struggles to find time for herself.
Lindsey also spoke with Iqbal, a caregiver for her elderly mother and her husband, who recently suffered a life-changing stroke.
The mother-of-three traveled to attend a support group for black, Asian and minority ethnic carers called Touchstone in West Yorkshire, where carers can discuss additional barriers that BAME carers may face.
According to the documentary, ITV conducted a survey of 2,000 people across the UK and found that 72 per cent of those who took part said that unpaid carers are undervalued in the UK, while 66 per cent said that The government is doing a “bad job.” ‘ to support unpaid carers.
A government spokesperson said: “Unpaid carers play a vital role in the lives of their family and friends, which is why we have increased the carer’s allowance by almost £1,200 since 2010. Carers may also be eligible for financial support through Universal Credit, which includes up to an extra £2,200 for your caring responsibilities.
“Local authorities are responsible for assessing unpaid carers in their area who need support and this year we have allocated £327 million through our Better Care Fund to provide carers with advice, support, short breaks and care services. relief”.
Lindsey Burrow: Who cares about our caregivers? – Tonight, ITV1 8:30pm and ITVX