What does it mean to care? The true meaning of care is to have feelings like concern, responsibility, or love for someone. And carers, well they exemplify that meaning every day.
So, to celebrate this year’s carers week, we’re shining a light on some carers in our network to recognise their contribution.
Who is a carer?
Caring can take many forms. You may be a carer of a child or adult living with a disability, a family member or friend with mental or a chronic illness or an elderly parent.
In Australia today there are more than 2.65 million carers. That means 1 in 11 people are providing support to someone daily.
Some caring responsibilities are predictable and can be anticipated. Other caring responsibilities are less predictable and often need immediate attention.
Carers make an enormous contribution to our community as well as our national economy.
Our network of carers
Many carers take on the role of caring on top of juggling life’s other responsibilities. Which is why we want to raise the awareness of what it means to be a carer. Here are some of our team who are full time carers.
Meet Brendan. Brendan and his wife have just welcomed their first-born son. They’re also foster carers who provide respite care, short-term care and long-term care for vulnerable kids in their community.
“One of the best this about being a foster carer is seeing a child feel safe and comfortable in their environment,” said Brendan.
“It can be challenging, especially knowing some of the behaviours the kids show are trauma based. You have to remember it's not a reaction to the way you’re caring” he explained.
What advice does Brendan have for someone considering becoming a foster carer?
“Just give it a go. You don’t have to be anyone special to be a carer – we certainly aren’t. We have fantastic support from our local care organisation. They allow us to be flexible with our care arrangements, answer all our questions and provide invaluable support,” said Brendan.
This is Tam. Tam is a full-time carer for her daughter. Together, they’re on a long journey after her daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and an anxiety disorder at 6 years old.
So, what are some of the challenges they experience?
"Every decision made is based around our daughter’s needs and current state of mind. Life for her, as she is hitting her teens is tough. The social gap gets wider with her peers, the anxiety is high and her poor developing little mind is so busy” Tam explained.
“It can be challenging but when we see how far we have come it is rewarding. We've had many hours of therapy and a wonderful team of Allied Health & Alternative Therapies. Without this, it wouldn’t have been possible for her to be successful in mainstream school. She is starting high school next year and this is a huge achievement” Tam beamed.
And as Tam juggles full time care with work, therapy appointments, friends, family and pets, how does she take time for herself?
“I just take time to recharge my batteries, learning to say no to things has been hard but necessary’’ she explained.
As Tam’s daughter reaches an important milestone of mainstream school Tam reflects on their journey. “We laugh, we cry, we celebrate the good things & try not to let the challenging times get us down”.
“My advice for other carers is to ask for help. Build up a strong support network and remember that it’s ok to take time away to work on other relationships. I have a date night with the husband or one on one time with my teen son, so those relationships are continuously nurtured too” Tam said.
Say hello to Brendan. Brendan is a carer for his daughter Audrey, who requires ongoing care following a seizure and diagnosis of brain condition ten years ago.
“I care for Audrey along with my wife, we’ve shared those duties for nearly eleven years, but it has certainly ramped up during COVID-19” he said.
“Audrey is a little beauty. She’s very happy but she cannot walk, talk and needs help feeding herself, so there are plenty of duties throughout the day” he said.
“Eleven years ago, my perspective on life changed, I needed flexibility and luckily I had a great manager at the time who provided me with that support”.
So, what advice does Brendan have for other carers?
“Biggest change for me as a carer and the advice I’d give, is that you have to be agile, and you have to be organised. I’ve become a lot more organised because I know that sometimes at the drop of a hat I might be diverted, so have to use my time really well”.