Carers come from all walks of life. They may be a young person caring for a parent with a disability, an older woman caring for a husband living with dementia, or a friend caring for a friend who has a mental illness.
Lilydale couple Rosanne and Angelo Poli are primary carers for Angelo’s mother Anna, aged 81, who has dementia and macular degeneration.
Ms Poli says when her mother-in-law’s health first began to deteriorate the family was supporting her fulltime.
“I have three young children so with school activities and other commitments, helping Anna manage as well, was pretty hard. We were worried she may confuse her medication and couldn’t be there all the time, so decided to get some support,” Ms Poli says.
National Carers Week, which runs 14 to 20 October, will celebrate the often un-sung role of carers, such as Ms Poli, within the community.
In 2007, Ms Poli joined more than 290 older people living in the east of Melbourne who access community care packages delivered by not-for-profit aged and disability services provider Villa Maria.
The packages see case managers assigned to frailaged people, those living with dementia and people with an acquired brain injury, to assist them with individualised needs such as accessing medical advice, organising social outings, personal care and home assistance.
The Poli’s, who still support Anna on weekends, say the extra support has been “vital” to helping them continue in their caring role.
Villa Maria case manager, Rebecca Irving, says although her main role is to support care package recipients, like Anna, it is important to recognise the needs of their carers too.
“Caring can take a huge toll on someone’s wellbeing. If the carer isn’t adequately looked after, the client will ultimately bear the impact,” Ms Irving says.
“Many carers of our community care package clients access Villa Maria’s Carer Support Program, which offers individualised support such as respite and links to carer programs and events.
“It’s great for them to know help is at hand and even if they don’t immediately need it, they can reach out for support at any time.”