This Friday 3 December marks International Day of People with Disability. For people like Peter* who has been the primary carer for his wife Audrey* for the past 13 years since she was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of just 52, it’s a time to recognize disability care workers who go above and beyond to help.
“Before her diagnosis, Audrey was living a very active and healthy life, but I stopped working about five years ago as Audrey’s condition deteriorated,” explains Peter. His work would take him away from home, and on days when a disability worker would call in sick or unable to work, Audrey was left at home by herself.
Peter’s devotion to his wife means that he is very involved in the selection process for any disability workers who assist Audrey. “The past two years have been very challenging. I had to evacuate Audrey during the bushfires in 2020 and it was distressing for her to be in an unfamiliar environment as our own home was without power for five weeks,” says Peter.
“COVID-19 has also caused challenges for us. It’s not just the lockdowns, but workers we have formed good relationships with have chosen not become vaccinated. I respect their personal decisions, but it’s very hard to see them go a now that they are ineligible to work in this part of the disability sector. They really cared for Audrey,” says Peter.
Peter approached Anglicare in October last year for additional assistance. “I found Anglicare to be really professional. The support coordinator, Martina, and the case manager were really good. I also engaged some carers privately to assist. I got who I wanted and I interviewed them,” says Peter. “The Anglicare team have helped take some of the burden off me. Martina has been a godsend. She’s committed to caring for both Audrey and myself. I can’t praise her enough!”
Martina has worked with Peter for over three years and is now a support coordinator with Anglicare on the South Coast. “Peter is a lovely carer, and he develops a trusting relationship with the workers,” says Martina. “This is so important in a situation like this where you’re in the person’s own home for most of the day. This type of work isn’t always easy, especially when you see active people like Audrey now having difficulty swallowing. But you know you’re making a difference for someone.”
For Martina, she feels that primary carers like Peter should be honoured for the care they give day in and day out for a loved one. “I feel a real connection to the people I work with, and seeing the love that people have for each other – like Peter’s care for Audrey – it’s a really positive part about the job. He’s a wonderful husband,” says Martina.
For more information about Anglicare’s Disability Day Centres in the Eurobodalla region, call (02) 4474 7900 or visit anglicare.com.au.
*Names changed for privacy