Published 11th December 2018
A new and thought-provoking drama aired on BBC One Sunday 9th December 2018. ‘Care’ stars Sheridan Smith as single mother Jenny who ends up caring for her mum (Alison Steadman) after she has a stroke and develops dementia. The powerful 90-minute drama is written by acclaimed screenwriter Jimmy McGovern and newcomer Gillian Juckes. ‘Care’ is loosely based on Juckes’ own experiences and focuses on the impact on Jenny’s life when she takes on that all-encompassing caring role. Initially, the story sees Jenny battling with the hospital who are keen to discharge Mary and it is a heartbreaking moment when Jenny essentially wills her Mum to fail the ‘making herself a cup of tea’ test so she can be assured a place in a care home. However, when the care home doesn’t work out Jenny becomes Mary’s primary carer, giving up her job in return for Carers Allowance (currently £64.60 a week) and entering into a new and incredibly challenging reality.
‘Care’ is not easy viewing. It is not meant to be. Caring for someone in Mary’s situation is not glamourous and there is no glory. ‘Care’ doesn’t shy away from showing the unremitting and unrelenting work and grief that Jenny goes through; the loss of her Mum although she is still here, the complete lack of time and space to herself. There are other characters involved but the main responsibility (again mirroring what can often happen in real life) falls to one person, in this case, Jenny who Sheridan Smith plays with pathos and poignancy. Alison Steadman is also fantastic as Mary who can no longer communicate as she could.
‘Care’ raises some challenging questions; about the public health service, about dementia and above all what it can really mean to take on the all-consuming role of caring for a loved one.
‘Care’ is available on BBC iPlayer for 29 days (so until 8th January 2019).
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