What’s life like as a full time carer?

The old man listens to music from a mobile phone

It’s National Carer’s Week and time to recognise the contribution that Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid carers make every day to our society. The scale of the contribution is huge. In fact, without unpaid carers, it would cost over $1 billion a week for our country to replace the supports that they provide.

The team at Carers Australia suggest that one of the best ways to promote Carer’s Week is for unpaid carers to share their stories. Greater understanding of the challenges that carers face and the diversity of their roles creates greater understanding and support for carers from friends, family and workplaces.

We spoke to Mable client Judy to find out how she manages her caring responsibilities, and works with independent support workers via Mable to get some respite.

With experience in disability support, Judy was equipped to take on the role of full time carer for her father with profound disabilities when he became unwell. As his power of Attorney, Judy is responsible for his care 24/7. She has also taken on the role of supporting her elderly aunt and uncle who have no children of their own, and helped them when the time came to organise an ACAT Assessment.
For Judy, caring is not always about the physical work; there’s also the mental load involved in being responsible for arranging someone else’s support.

“Because of my previous experience, I act as a care manager. I organise all of their carers, approve all the time sheets.”

Judy’s husband also works as an independent support worker on Mable, and is able to provide her with relief at times. With a twelve year old daughter of her own, Judy struggles to find time for herself and admits that caring can have an impact on her health and wellbeing. While she finds time with her daughter re-energises her, she also takes care to carve out a little personal time, treating herself to a pedicure or a simple walk to the beach when she can.

Flexible, local support provides much-needed respite

Judy uses Mable to find flexible support for both her dad and aunt and uncle, engaging four different independent support workers via the platform. For her father, the support workers provide personal support, meal preparation, social support and transport to doctor’s appointments.

Her aunt and uncle, who both receive Home Care Packages, access support through Mable to help with cleaning, admin tasks and transport to appointments. An independent support worker comes once a week, giving Judy some peace of mind – and her aunt and uncle a little independence, dropping them at the shops so they can have lunch together. They’re also a couple who love to travel, and would often take spontaneous road trips to rural destinations. As they no longer have their licenses, their getaways now involve a little more preparation, but with the help of a support worker to drive them and get them set up in a hotel they can continue to travel.

“It allows them to still holiday and have independence to live life like they used to.”

Being unable to work due to her caring responsibilities, Judy finds that a common misconception is that carers are ‘sitting around having a bludge.’ Judy says the reality could not be further from the truth, likening her caring responsibilities to a full time job. Despite this, she finds that being able to give her family the best possible quality of life for as long as possible is incredibly rewarding.

“My dad has been a very good dad to me. Now it is my turn to show my appreciation for all the care he has given me over the years.”

Click through here to find out about Carer’s Week events in your area.

If you or your family are looking for some respite, search the profiles of independent support workers in your area.