National Carers Week, celebrated from the 15th to the 21st of October 2023, is a time to acknowledge and honour the incredible individuals who provide unpaid care and support to their loved ones. These individuals dedicate their time, energy, and emotions to ensure the well-being of family members and friends who face various challenges, from disabilities and mental health conditions to chronic illnesses and life-limiting illnesses.
Meet Vera, a remarkable carer who recently shared her heartfelt experience during National Carers Week. She gave us a glimpse into the challenges she faced while caring for her husband, who has a life-limiting illness. Being a carer is relentless, like a 24/7 on-call duty. It’s a journey marked by selflessness, emotional intensity, and the inevitable risk of burnout. Caring for someone with a life-limiting illness especially requires giving your all, with every ounce of emotion invested. It’s a path that can be challenging for outsiders to truly understand, she said.
She also emphasised how carers like herself often neglect their own well-being, putting their needs on the backburner. Recognising the importance of self-care is crucial for carers, and this is where Leo’s Place plays a crucial role.
Vera’s journey to Leo’s Place began when a social worker at Clare Holland House introduced her to the idea of respite care and referred her to Leo’s Place. Vera had always known she needed a break but was unsure how to organise the support she required, or perhaps she didn’t want to burden herself with the logistics of care for her husband. However, when she learned about Leo’s Place from the social worker, she decided to take the opportunity.
Vera stayed at Leo’s place for 2 nights. She said the place provided her with a much-needed respite from her caregiving responsibilities. It allowed her to connect with other carers/ guests who understood her struggles, share her experiences, and recharge her spirits.
Vera also described her experience as a positive one, but she wished it could have been longer. Her time there gave her the opportunity to rejuvenate, relax, and ultimately return to her caregiving role with renewed energy and determination.
Leo’s Place, is a home away from home, providing overnight respite for those with life-limiting illnesses. This service also extends to the option of allowing the carer to stay with their loved one. Additionally, we offer day respite, providing essential care and support, allowing carers to take short breaks and attend to their own needs. Moreover, Leo’s Place offers carer support, including access to advice, information, and self-care activities.
The one of our objectives with Leo’s Place is to give caregivers like Vera a break from their everyday caring responsibilities. We recognise the significant need for such support among carers and their families, and therefore, we believe it is essential to promote and encourage all carers to take advantage of these valuable services.
This year, Leo’s Place celebrated 50,000+ hours of compassionate care for both clients and carers. Our hope is that more people will access their services in the future and we support more carers/ families like Vera.
During this National Carers Week, Palliative Care ACT encourages every carer to prioritise self-care and explore the wealth of available services in the community, including our volunteer home-based services. We invite you to visit our website for a range of toolkits and resources that can assist you in navigating your caregiving journey. Remember, caring for your loved ones starts with taking care of yourself, and together, we can make this path a bit easier for all.