Australia’s 2.65 million carers are in the spotlight this week as we recognise and celebrate the role they play in community.
National Carers Week (16-22 October) is an opportunity to raise awareness about the diversity of carers, and the many ways they provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends.
It is also a time to shine a light on the faces who support carers. People like Carole, Amelia and Danielle.
Together, they make up Centacare’s Community Connections Carer Support Program (CCCSP) which plays a vital role in the lives of 56 carers across the north and country regions of the Barossa, Light, and Lower North.
The program provides carers with short-term support (from 12 to 24 weeks) to increase their independence and strengthen social and community connections.
Carer Coordinator Danielle has been a key support for loved ones since she was a child.
“From a very young age, I learnt to look after my own needs. This quickly turned into caring for my sisters and then our mum, but I never considered myself a carer; I just thought that’s what you did when your family is in need,’’ she said.
“Even in my thirties, when my then-mother-in-law experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s moved into our family home, or when my young sister came to live with us, I still didn’t acknowledge my role as a carer.
“It wasn’t until I was employed in the community services sector that I really understood the part I had played in being an unpaid carer, and the vital role we all play.’’
Like Danielle, Carole assumed the role of carer in childhood when she looked after her sibling.
Years later, she did the same for her mother who suffered dementia.
“Supporting someone who has supported you for countless years was confronting in many ways,’’ Carole said.
“Much soul-searching took place on my behalf and the importance of being in the moment arose constantly. I trust that the experience enriched both of our lives with a caring sense of loving kindness.’’
In the 30th year of National Carers Week, fellow Carer Coordinator Amelia said it was important to acknowledge the demands placed on carers.
“Attempting to balance competing priorities, whilst taking care of yourself and others around you, can be overwhelming and sometimes seem impossible,’’ she said.
“There are times where you may feel challenges in life are endless and experience feelings of isolation due to a limited support network.
“I want every person to know that it is ok to not feel ok. Viable supports are available and reaching out for support highlights strength and courage.’’
Centacare supports carers to increase their independence, build strong social and community connections, and balance the demands of their role with their personal interests and goals.
“It takes a special person to be a carer, and someone equally as giving to in turn support them,’’ CCCSP Manager Natalie Tucker said.
“The team constantly encourages carers to build resilience and take time out for themselves to ensure they fill their own buckets, so they can be the best version of themselves for those they care for.
“We have carers as young as eight, as well as those who are socially disconnected due to geographical isolation. Day in, day out, I see the coordinators rise to the occasion, get creative and support every carer to be their best.
“Seeing the staff passion and drive, and receiving the feedback we do, is truly heart-warming.”
Carers aged up to 64 (49 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples) who are not registered with My Aged Care or the National Disability Insurance Scheme and live in the north and country regions of Barossa, Light, and the Lower North, are eligible for the Carer Connections Carer Support program.
Phone the team direct on (08) 8412 9570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org