12th September 2016

La Trobe Community Health Service News&Media

When Yarram resident Bev Dixon saw a flyer in a local shop a few years ago asking ‘Are you a carer?’ she dismissed it. She was not paid to look after her husband Kev, who has emphysema; it never occurred to her that she was one of the 2.8 million unpaid carers in Australia.
When Yarram resident Bev Dixon saw a flyer in a local shop a few years ago asking ‘Are you a carer?’ she dismissed it. She was not paid to look after her husband Kev, who has emphysema; it never occurred to her that she was one of the 2.8 million unpaid carers in Australia.
“It’s just something you do, caring for your loved one,” said Bev. “I didn’t know there was help and support available until I went to Yarram and District Health Service, and found out about Carer Programs.”
Bev’s first contact with Carer Programs, which Latrobe Community Health Service runs, was about four years ago.
Now, Bev is now passionate about getting the message out to other people who look after a friend or family member but who do not think of themselves as carers.
“Help is out there. If I didn’t have the support I did, I wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground,” she said. “It’s been tremendous, the friendships and support, for a little town like this.”
From her initial involvement with Carer Programs, Bev has now become the go-to person and coordinator for the Yarram Carers Support Group.
She still meets her friends from Carer Programs once a month, when they get together for lunch in Yarram. The Latrobe Community Health Service Carer Programs team, based in Sale, hosts these lunches.
“Caring for someone can be rewarding, but you can also feel incredibly lonely sometimes. We are pleased that this group is still going strong after three years and attracting new faces,” said Elaine Clements, carer support coordinator at Latrobe Community Health Service.
“We want to remind people that help and support is available, including respite. Taking a short break from looking after someone to do the things you want or need to do is really important.
“There are lots of people care for a partner or parent, but don’t always identify as being a carer. Subsequently, they don’t realise the breadth of support services available to them.”
Elaine said many carers often put their own needs on hold while looking after their friend or family member.
“It’s so important to continue to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing when you care for someone,” said Elaine.
“Carers use the time at our monthly lunches to get out of the house and be sociable among people who understand what they’re going through, too.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Through Carer Programs, carers can access information, activities and support.
There are special programs for different groups of carers, including carers of a person who is frail and elderly, carers of a person with a mental illness, carers of a person with dementia, and carers aged 18 years and below still attending school while caring for a family member.
These services are free and available across Gippsland.
For more information about Carer Programs at Latrobe Community Health Service, visit www.lchs.com.au or phone 1800 242 696.

http://www.lchs.com.au/news-and-media/building-carer-support-networks-in-yarram