When our father’s carer recently tested positive for Covid, my brother and I stepped in to look after him.

Our father has suffered from multiple sclerosis for more than 45 years and, as a result, is very disabled. He is also in the late stages of both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia so has little cognitive ability. Recently, his care needs have escalated and become even more complex. It’s been physically and emotionally gruelling. It has also been very distressing.

There is no dignity in this kind of care and my father would be mortified if he knew what my brother and I have had to witness whilst caring for him.

As siblings, my brother and I have a unique bond. We share the same parents and have the common experience of our formative years.

Ham & High: Shelley-Anne Salisbury celebrates her relationship with her brotherShelley-Anne Salisbury celebrates her relationship with her brother (Image: Shelley-Anne Salisbury)

As we care for our father, who is literally unravelling before our very eyes, there is no need to explain the way we feel. We work together as a team, as if we have been split in two. We have the same thought nanoseconds before the other voices it. In the most grim circumstances, we can both laugh and cry about what is happening. We are life members of the same club.

There was a time when my brother and I weren’t on speaking terms. But that was in the past and we got over it. When things got tough, my brother and I were able to form a strong, unbreakable unit and are forever grateful for the support we have received and continue to receive from one other.

Of course, we don’t always agree on everything, but we manage to put any differences aside and concentrate on the important task at hand. What we categorically agree on is that our father deserves the very best of care. When professional carers are finally in place, we hover over them, ensuring our father’s needs are being met to the highest of standards. We message one another with updates and reports when we leave our parents’ home. We find we have independently asked the carers the exact same questions. It must be very irritating.

Sometimes, I think I see tiny glimmers of cognition in my father’s eyes. They are rare and fleeting but, I hope, during these moments, he is aware of the strong sibling bond between me and my brother and is suitably proud of his legacy.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury is a mediator, writer and the co-editor of Suburb News, themediationpod.net.