VMCH’s Carer Support program recently held an event at Coombe Yarra Valley, as an opportunity for the full-time carers to get together, socialise and have some time out from their responsibilities.

The program provides events for people who live in Melbourne’s eastern region and care for a loved one with care needs including dementia, disability, chronic condition or illness, or older age-related needs.

It is a chance for the carers to take a break and enjoy some time to themselves.

During the busy, and fun-filled day, they asked one of the participants to explain why she enjoys being involved.

“I’ve cared for my mother for 17 years,” says carer Maggie Hawkes.

“The social inclusions I have been included in have been just wonderful. I’ve been to live shows, including The Lion King.

“I know I could possibly access some money and take myself to a live show. But it is the connection, it is the companionship. The people you’ve seen before. The “how are you going?”. It’s the people, the new faces, the new experiences.

“I’ve also had a lot of practical help. I get my gutters cleaned once a year, and I’ve had a big front and back garden blitz. Caring for my mother, I don’t even get a chance to rake a few leaves or do the composting. And this wonderful quality team just comes in and helps me.

“I have been a carer for 17 years, and I have done some wonderful things. I’ve been out for meals, coffee, to seminars, tried art therapy. It’s good to just cut, chat and chew. There’s no right, no wrong and no expectations.

“I like my own company, but it’s so much more pleasurable to go out with other people.

“I just think it’s so unique. I go home and we then have quality time. We have a cup of coffee, and I can say “oh mum we did this, here’s a photo, here’s a brochure. Would you like to come here one time?”

“If you’re in any way hesitant, it’s quite understandable, but you’ve got to understand that everybody’s walked down that road. Same as you at some point or another. Whether it’s at the beginning of the journey or the middle.

“Do yourself a favour and make that phone call. Don’t miss out. I could have accessed these services even longer than I have, so don’t be hesitant, you’re in good company here.”

For more information on the Carer Support program, contact us on 1300 971 720.

Carers must be unpaid and living in the local areas of Knox, Yarra Ranges, Whitehorse, Maroondah, Manningham, Monash and Boroondara.

Image: Carer Support Program participant Maggie Hawkes, supplied.

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