A Division of Rural & Regional Holistic Health Pty Ltd : ACN 159 344 902

Our “Official” Launch

March 6, 2012

On Friday March 2nd 2012 in Toowoomba the Deputy Mayor of Toowoomba Cr. Paul Antonio officially launched Home Care 2U Australia.

Also supporting the launch were CR. Bill Cahill, Environmental and Community Services, Toowoomba Shire Council and State MP Kerry Shine Member for Toowoomba North plus 30 other business and Health Care Industry representatives.

This is a copy of the address delivered by Shirley Donaldson, CEO Home Care 2U Australia.

The Launch of Home Care 2U Australia for me is the realisation of a vision to make available better support services to in-home Carers throughout regional, rural and remote Australia without any restrictions.

Although there is still a long way to go today is the first step in making this vision a reality.

A couple of years ago while still looking after my husband full time, and with my own health deteriorating quickly, I decided that once I could no longer manage and he was in permanent care (and when my double knee replacement surgery was over), I was going to do something to address the problems that I had encountered as a Carer over the years.

There are many areas where families need additional support that today are being overlooked by authorities and other providers.

Firstly – help dealing with the initial diagnosis of either Alzheimers or another terminal illness – when you the partner suddenly realise that all your dreams for the future have just gone up in smoke! It is very easy to become depressed and angry.

Next is the guilt and sense of failure when you finally come to the realisation that you can no longer manage without outside help.

The anger that consumes you is not directed at the person you are caring for, but with the situation in general because you have been forced through no choice of your own to give up everything you cared about – your career and lots more.

The isolation as all your friends move on because they cannot stand to see your partner this way and would rather remember them as they were. Sadly, it scares people when they see someone they have known for years deteriorate with any form of terminal illness, because it brings them back in touch with their own mortality.

The heartbreak and guilt the first time you leave them at home with a Care Worker for an extended period, or place them into a facility for respite. Even though it is the only way to have a much needed break before you collapse from sheer exhaustion and wind up in hospital yourself.

Living through the heartache as those suffering from Alzheimer’s start to forget who you are until they eventually have no memory of you, your past life together or your children.

And the final step… when you have no choice but to put them into permanent care.

I was very lucky to have a fantastic support group of family, friends and workers from the Age Care Industry who helped me through these latter stages but for many this is not the case. One day I hope that when a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness and they need a Carer, that there will be a service available where Doctors can refer patients and their families for support through the tough times ahead.

Support services today only touch the surface of what is really required by Carers on this long and lonely journey.

Although there are facilities available where you can take your loved one who is suffering from Dementia or Alzheimers for respite, these do not work for everyone, and Carers in this situation are left relying solely on in-home help – as was my case.

The 4-5 hour in-home respite normally allowed by existing organisations, as much as it is appreciated, does not allow you to do much more than race around paying bills and buying groceries! All the while keeping a close eye on the time, so as to make sure you get home on time to relieve the Care Worker… which leaves you more exhausted than when you left.

Personally I found that it was almost impossible to arrange even overnight respite, and if it was available the cost was mind boggling, making this something that could only happen occasionally even with Government Support.

24 hours, Weekend or Extended Respite for 7 days or more was almost non-existent, and if available required several staff changes during that time.

Now as anyone who cares for someone who has Alzheimers knows, changing Care Workers at the best of times can be a real problem and lead to changes in behaviour, never mind the cost involved with such an extended respite.

But, as a full time Carer, this is what I really needed! To be able to recoup and continue caring properly for my partner without doing further damage to my own health.

It was also impossible to get emergency respite when something went wrong either with medications or just a Family issue and more so on weekends.

Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres do a fantastic job of supporting Carers but are still restricted by funding.

Hence the establishment of Home Care 2U Australia.

Although we do offer an hourly respite service our main focus is emergency overnight, 24 hour and extended respite for Carers who just find they are completely worn out and need a break or when there is an medical or family emergency.

Over the years another aspect of the Carer support services offered today that has bothered me is when other Carers have told me how they cannot receive a service because they live outside some “invisible” boundary!

Home Care 2U Australia has no borders or boundaries and will go whereever their service is required!

Everyone here is fully aware of the shortage of experienced staff in the Age Care sector today but it appals me when I visit a nursing home, particularly the Dementia section, to find students that can barely speak English being trained through the employment agencies to work in Age Care, placed mainly to capitalise on Government funding for training!

At the same time – once Carers have taken the final step and placed their loved one into permanent care and in many cases are dealing with separation anxiety, guilt and a sense of failure all over again – they are given only 14 weeks of ongoing payments then placed on the New Start allowance and told to find work if they are under 65 years of age.

We must also remember that in many cases these ex-Carers may not have worked for the last 10 to 20 years.

What a waste of a fantastic resource of knowledge and experience letting seasoned Carers go into the workforce as cleaners and shop assistants.

We have already approached some of our State Government Members and received their support to Lobby Canberra for changes to the existing carers Pension and /or Payment to allow these people to work in the Age Care Sector Government subsidised if they so choose but we still have a long way to go.

In the near future I will also be asking you for your support in:

  • Firstly Lobbying Canberra for changes to the present system.

  • Asking for changes to the Carer Pension / Payment cut off times

  • And asking for Additional Funding for Services to rural and remote areas

After all it was the 2009 Federal Government’s National Health Reform that stated that the new National Health Reforms will see every person in Australia benefit, no matter where they live.

But so far this is not the case and we have not seen “a healthier future for all Australians” to date.

If successful, this lobbying of Canberra will not only benefit Home Care 2U Australia but all organisations involved in supplying services to the Age Care industry.

Staffing the more Rural and Remote areas of this great country of ours will no longer be a problem and will enable us to support those Carers in remote areas that today receive nothing.

Remember Pauline Hansen and her favourite saying “Please explain”?

Well I am going to borrow it for one minute and ask the Government to “Please explain” to me and the people of Australia Why we need to spend 32 million on another Commission into Mental Health?

A Commission which is going to be run by professionals who, more than likely, have NEVER been a carer for a person with Mental Health issues in their lives.

Surely there are enough of us out there already working in the industry and carers – I believe over 250,000 Australia wide – to answer all the question the Commission needs answered for a fraction of the cost?

Then the balance of the money could be directed to where it is urgently needed – supporting Carers and their families.

Home Care 2U Australia also offers a companion help service for those who need assistance with simple things like going shopping, visiting friends, or socialising and a personal care service which is available for those who just need showering or meals prepared.

Our domestic services support those amongst us who find it too hard to do house cleaning, washing, Ironing and even light gardening themselves.

Although at present we are only servicing the Darling Downs, Southern Downs and South West Queensland, it is hoped in the near future to expand through-out rural and remote Queensland!

And eventually, take our services Australia wide, particularly into the more remote areas not covered by services today!

Thank You.


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