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Carers’ opportunity to relax, socialise

Victoria’s Villa Maria’s Carinya Respite Service in Lysterfield will begin the new financial year with a boost to its popular community outings.
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Victoria’s Villa Maria’s Carinya Respite Service in Lysterfield will begin the new financial year with a boost to its popular community outings.

Leisure and lifestyle coordinator, Lyn Alexander, said from July, Carinya was extending its existing regular ‘out and about’ program for people living with dementia to focus on activities for both care recipients and their carers.

A recent trip to Melbourne Zoo last month for 14 carers and their loved ones, showed the need for couples to have the opportunity to socialise with people in similar situations in a fun and relaxing environment.

“It’s really beneficial for carers to see that there are others who are going through the same kinds of issues they are, and that they can all get together and have some positive times out rather than be bogged down with the negatives and the day to day challenges at home,” Ms Alexander said.

Brenda Saunders, (pictured left with Lorraine and Carolyn) who cares for her husband Ralph, aged 73, said the couple enjoyed the zoo trip.

“We met some new people and reconnected with others. These outings are fabulous – you can relax and not be anxious about what other people might be thinking because everybody’s in the same boat. It feels a bit more like times used to be (before dementia diagnosis),” Ms Saunders said.

She said having access to Villa Maria’s respite and carer support services made her caring role “much easier”. A recent three day carers retreat at Balgownie Estate in the Yarra Valley was particularly reenergising, she said.

“I’ve actually formed quite close friendships with many of the other carers.  We’re a great support for one another.”

Mr Saunders’ overnight stays at Carinya were beneficial to both her and her husband.

“Caring for Ralph at home can be pretty full on, so this gives me time to just continue a life outside of being a carer; to meet up with friends, go to work occasionally, and keep life going as it was before.

“Ralph enjoys his time at Carinya – he treats it almost like a little holiday.  The staff members are very caring and they make sure there are plenty of activities as Ralph is still a very fit man and likes to keep occupied. I don’t have any worries when he’s there, he’s happy.”

Ms Saunders has encouraged other carers to seek support if they weren’t already. 

“Some carers are travelling a very hard road and don’t know what services are out there. I can’t imagine how it would be not having these opportunities available. Without them, life can be quite challenging and isolating.”

To find out more about Villa Maria’s carer and respite services, call 1300 650 615.

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