'Don't give up': Kate Garraway reveals struggle for husband's care and calls for reform

22 February 2022, 10:36 | Updated: 22 February 2022, 11:51

By Will Taylor

Kate Garraway has told carers and patients "don't give up the fight" as she continues to try give her husband Derek the best life she can.

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The Smooth Radio presenter said she feels "incredibly lucky" to have the support around her – even if she believes she has gotten "tougher" as a result of her family’s ordeal.

Her critical assessment of the state of the care sector as she spoke to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast will be viewed as a call for change. Her remarks come ahead of ITV’s broadcast of her new documentary on Derek Draper's recovery.

Kate Garraway: Caring for Derek, which will air at 9pm on Tuesday on ITV, follows the 54-year-old former political adviser as he returns home from hospital and receives round-the-clock care.

He was struck by Covid near the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, and no longer has the virus. However, he has been left with long-lasting damage to his organs and Kate said he is not "out of the woods" because the long-term effects of his illness are not known.

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Kate Garraway said care services are not working as they should
Kate Garraway said care services are not working as they should. Picture: ITV

She struggled to get care amid the pandemic and said: "The carers and the people that try and make the system work, they are absolute heroes, but, it is not working.

"It is not working as well as it should for everybody. And the care system is the one thing we're all going to need in life.

"We're either all going to become carers at some point for someone we love, or we're going to need care, either because we've got old and we need care, or because it can happen, as I've spoken to people where they're 20 years old, they walk out and get hit by a car and suddenly their life is changed and they need support in how to go forward.

"So it's something we need to address. I don't get political in it... because this is just my story, but I'm sure that there will be and should be a debate that follows."

Derek remains needing round-the-clock care
Derek remains needing round-the-clock care. Picture: ITV

She said her "kind, caring" husband still only speaks in a whisper or single words, but people still see "flashes" of movement and the first time he moved because he "wants to do something" was when he hugged his son upon return, as seen in the documentary.

He is "absolutely there", she said, adding that he joked that his home office was "disgraceful" because Kate has used it as a bit of a "dumping ground".

Kate told Nick she was at a low eb last year, unsure how to win the fight and feeling like there was no way out.

"The hope there that I want people to think is, don’t give up the fight, a lot of people have said to me 'when are you going to accept that Derek is how he is and he’s not going to change?'

"And I’ve said you know what, if he is how he is that’s still wonderful, as long as we can get him enough help that we can optimise where he is, that’s still a miracle.

But, if you broke your arm, you wouldn't just think I’ve got a broken arm, now I'll live with it, you would try and get it mended and if it couldn't be fixed properly you would try and get therapy to try and optimise that fixing."

Kate and Derek flew to Monterrey in Mexico during November 2021 so he could undergo a medical trial which Kate thinks could herald a pioneering treatment for people with Covid and other problems.

But she insisted she did not want to raise people’s hopes yet.

The couple, who have two children, will fly out for 28 days in March, when doctors will monitor Derek’s brain, liver and lungs.

The documentary begins in April 2021, when Derek came home from hospital.

Kate said Derek would die in three days if he stopped receiving care, and worries that as she has toughened over the ordeal that she is sometimes less friendly to people she knows.

But despite her family's pain over the last two years, she still appears full of life and takes the positives.

"I've learned that I'm incredibly lucky because I have incredibly supportive bosses. And many people who are in my situation, and there are upwards of 7 million of them that is caring for someone they love, not in a professional capacity.

"I'm very lucky to have people that allow me to still bring income into the home and also keep the home afloat. Many people have to give up work and go on benefits.

"And that seems bonkers to me because then you've got an entire family on benefits. So I've been able to do that, Even though it's been very tough at times, I require a lot of patience.

"And I'm very lucky that I've got lots of friends and family around me AND many people don't have that too. I've learned that I'm very lucky to have the chance to fight on for something more."

Kate Garraway: Caring for Derek is on ITV1 tonight at 9pm.

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