By Melissa Keogh
A cuppa and a chat, a lunch with friends or a day trip exploring South Australia’s Clare Valley.
These are just some of the simple pleasures not-for-profit organisation SA Country Carers in the state’s Lower Mid North is helping unpaid carers take the time to enjoy.
Supporting unpaid carers of family and friends with disabilities or of frail age is at the heart of the Clare-based community organisation that mainly services the Mid North, but is also visited by clients across the state.
It is estimated that 245,000 people in SA provide unpaid care to family and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or are frail.
Carers often provide physical and personal care and assistance including dressing, lifting out of bed and up from chairs, showering, feeding, providing transport to attend appointments, and managing medications.
Almost half of carers provide up to 20 hours of care every week, while more than 30% provide over 40 hours a week – more than the equivalent of a full-time job.
SA Country Carers provides information, counselling and advocacy to carers who are often faced with physical and emotional fatigue from their caring role.
In 1996 the organisation was established by a group of locals who saw a need for greater carer support.
Now the community organisation supports more than 500 unpaid carers and has offices at Clare and Balaklava, as well as a short-term respite facility, Grevillea House, in Clare.
CEO Eve Rogers says support systems are crucial for regional areas.
“It’s important for carers to have a break and for them to know that there are others out there, that they’re not alone in the world,” she says.
“It’s important to have trusted services in regional communities.”
The short-term residential respite facility, Grevillea House, allows unpaid carers to take a break, while knowing their loved ones are safe and being looked after.
Carer recipients stay at Grevillea House for a short period of time, while the carer takes time out for themselves, or attends day trips, retreats and activities put on by the organisation.
Sometimes the activities are attended by both the carer and care recipient to allow for bonding time.
This month Grevillea House will officially celebrate an overhaul of the facility, which Eve says needed a little TLC.
“In 2016 we renovated the kitchen using donations from loyal supporters and the local community, including the Rotary Club which was very generous with their funding,” she says.
“But once we did the kitchen we looked around and realised that everything else looked really old.”
A refurbishment of the house began in August this year with a paint job, new floor coverings and window furnishings.
Grevillea House’s landlord, Helping Hand, also chipped in to the facility’s rejuvenation by replacing all light treatments and heaters at its own cost.
Eve says many care recipients, who can be as young as five or of frail age, end up calling Grevillea House their second home, with activities, facilities and support on hand to meet their needs.
SA Country Carers relies on the community for support, conducting a number of fundraising activities throughout the year.
Its group of volunteers are key to these fundraising efforts and boosting the organisation’s profile in the community.
SA Country Carers is one of five carer support organisations in the state.
Access to SA Country Carers services can be provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, NDIS, and My Aged Care.
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