This year National Carers Week's annual campaign highlighted the challenges unpaid carers face and recognised the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the NSW.
This year’s campaign helps people who may not think of themselves as a carer to self-identify and access much-needed support.
We have interviewed several carers who talk about their experience of caring.
My Nhi’s Story
‘My main advice to carers is that you don’t have to do it alone. There is support out there – no matter what background or level of need,’ says My Nhi who is full-time carer for her mother and two daughters.
‘It’s very important to talk about everything carers do because it’s a 24/7 job. No matter what, when you are a carer, you are responsible for your family so you have to find a way to make things work for you’.
When My Nhi’s youngest daughter was three, she was diagnosed with autism.. Later on, her oldest was also diagnosed with ADHD, ADD and a communication disability. My Nhi admits her role can be challenging, but she’s learnt to adapt.
‘I had to learn to schedule around their needs. When my daughters are with an occupational therapist or psychologist, I would go grocery shopping and run errands. I learnt to work it out as I go’.
My Nhi’s mother would help with some of the household duties when her daughter were younger. However, after a fall, My Nhi also became her primary carer.
‘My kids are very close to my mother so she lives with us. She occasionally calls my brothers and sisters but I help her with her day-to-day duties.
Caring for your mother is very different because your mum is always right and she’s always the wise one so I learn so much from her’.
Mi Nhi’s daughters are now age 12 and 15 and she is learning to balance her responsibilities to her family with her own care.
Caring for yourself as a carer
My Nhi says that her additionally duties as a carer can become overwhelming at times but she’s learning how to take care of herself as well.
‘My advice to carers is to take time for yourself to recharge your batteries. When it’s your family, your children, it’s easy to always prioritise them. But you have to learn to love yourself too so that you can take care of them’.
My Nhi is always looking to connect to other carers and link to supports so can take more time for herself when she needs to.
‘No matter what I do, I am always learning from other carers. They may all have different ways of doing things so I am always looking to connect with them.’
Looking forward to getting out and about with Companion Card
Now that the restrictions are lifting, My Nhi is looking forward take her daughters on a day out. She uses her companion card on transport when she takes her daughters to places across Sydney.
‘When things reopen, I want to take my eldest daughter on the train for a weekend away so I can make happy memories with her. She always remembers those things for months after.
We also use the card for movies. Because both our daughters have a disability, my husband and I can both gain entry to take care of them’.
The Companion Card program allows carers to gain free entry when supporting a loved one when attending movies, concerts or on public transport. Find out if you’re eligible for a companion card: companioncard.nsw.gov.au/.
Are you a carer?
A carer is someone that provides unpaid support to a loved one because of old age, disability, mental illness, chronic illness, dementia or drug/alcohol dependency. If you are a carer, there lots of supports and resources available to you.
To find out more information about carers and supports available, visit: carergateway.gov.au/.