Her new book, An Extra Pair of Hands, explores this essential work with poignancy and wit.
She will be discussing it with Sussex Newspapers group arts editor Phil Hewitt in a special event in The Brasserie at Chichester Festival Theatre on Thursday, June 10 at 6pm.
Tickets sales at £5 will support the CFT’s work with local charity Dementia Support which delivers services for people in the West Sussex area living with dementia and their family and carers at Sage House, its dementia support hub in Tangmere.
As Kate says, An Extra Pair of Hands is a book about love. It is also a book which she hopes will change the way we talk about older people.
Kate was approached to write it by the Wellcome Trust, a charitable foundation focused on health research.
“They do a lot of research into health care and social care in the UK, and they realised the huge issues around social care in this country – the improvements that have been promised by successive governments that just haven’t happened, the need to organise social care properly, to make sure that it is not a postcode lottery, that the way that the population is ageing and changing should be seen as a positive thing.
“The Wellcome Trust knew that I was a carer and asked if I would write about my own experiences. I had to think about it. I am not someone that writes memoirs. I don’t put my personal life on the page at all as a novelist.
“But I realised I would love to do it for a number of reasons.
“First of all, I consider being a carer to be a great privilege. It can be very tough and it can be very sad, but I wanted the chance to talk in a very, very positive way about what it means to be a carer.
“And I also wanted to help to try to change the language around ageing.
“Often the discussion around getting older is delivered in a very negative way. It needs to be much more positive.
“My whole life I have been surrounded by people in their 70s, 80s and older and they have always been wonderful to be with.
“What matters is not how old they are, but who they are, what they say.
“We should all be talking about the huge value that older people bring to society – and this seemed a lovely chance to celebrate what great company (mother-in-law) Granny Rosie is, what great people my parents were.
“I wanted to write a positive book that talks about what is involved in being a carer, a book that doesn’t shy away from how hard and how difficult and how sad it can be, but more importantly a book which celebrates what a great privilege it is to care for people.”
The point is, as Kate says, that the book is about love.
“It is about supporting my amazing mother caring for my amazing father at the end of his life. They were both people who cared for people throughout their lives.
“The house was always full of people that they were supporting and helping. I was brought up to believe that our contribution to the community we live in is really important, and my parents were absolutely the living example of that.”
Tickets from the CFT.