Caring for the carers
The City of Onkaparinga’s Wellness for Carers Program is supporting carers to engage in their own pastimes.
Caring for a relative who is managing long-term illness is a constant labour of love, leaving little time for self-care, keeping socially connected and engaging in leisure and recreational activities.
The council’s Wellness for Carers Program offers low level flexible respite designed to improve the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of people in caring roles. The wellness for carers coordinator is responsible for arranging brokered care providers to deliver flexible and planned respite services to more than 40 carers currently referred to the program through the Australian Government’s My Aged Care portal.
The brokerage agencies employed in the program match a local worker to the person needing care. All agency workers have the relevant qualifications and clearances and are monitored for quality of service in line with current aged care standards, national quality standards, and guidelines set by Wellness for Carers funding body the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
“Flexible respite gives the carer a break from their caring role, providing an opportunity for him or her to reconnect to activities or friends. Carers get to take time out for their own wellbeing, knowing that their loved one is safe and has social support as well,” says council’s Active Ageing Coordinator Paquita Spurr.
Willunga resident Annette Worden cares for her husband Philip, who suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2017, Annette discovered kayaking through the council’s Social Connections Program, which aims to support older residents and younger people with disabilities to improve their health and lifestyle. While Annette was learning to kayak, the Wellness for Carers Program arranged for a support worker to be with Philip while she took to the water.
“I’ve been fortunate to be part of the Wellness for Carers Program. I cannot thank the program team enough for developing my passion for kayaking.
It makes me feel good about myself, and gives both me and Philip some of our own space,” Annette says.
“It’s something I have for myself now, and I can enjoy it when I like.”
Annette has equipped herself to independently manage her green kayak— dubbed ‘Kermit’— she can launch onto the Onkaparinga River from a couple of places close to her home.
Walkie talkies help Annette to communicate with Philip when she wants to have a paddle with Kermit while he stays at home. While Annette prefers to stay in protected waters, if she disappears from sight she can let Philip know where she is.
“I enjoy the peacefulness of being out on the water in Kermit. I’m with my own thoughts, enjoying the silence and the solitude, and watching the pelicans and other birds,” Annette says.
Annette encourages others to take up flexible respite for a much-needed break and time out for one’s wellbeing.
“Give something new a go with like-minded people who want to share their experiences,” she says.
For further information about the Wellness for Carers Program phone council’s Active Ageing team on 8384 0558.
Annette Worden is a full-time carer for her husband Philip; the Wellness for Carers Program gives Annette time to enjoy kayaking on the Onkaparinga River.