This week I investigated the possibility of getting some help. Realizing that having two children now with special needs, I know that I have to be very careful that I don't push myself too much. What makes me think that I am close to that line, I not only have lost my wallet, I think I have permanently. So I have had to go through the grueling process of ordering new cards and then waiting for them to come. So upon some instruction I received previously I called Carelink, now for those who don't know who they are, their role is to
"provide a link to and information about a wide range of community, aged care and support services available locally or across Australia, including services for older people, people with a disability, and those who provide care and services. Centres can also assist carers with options to take a break through short-term and emergency respite services, based on assessed need, and provide advice on and coordinate access to respite services in a carer’s local area."
Before I become a carer my chosen area of work is community services; I was well acquainted with the process of determining if a client would fit the criteria, often I knew the affect of how my decisions would impact the lives of the clients that I work with. So when I called Carelink I asked them so what is their criteria, I got no answer except that I had to call them. So call them I did, made an appointment and they were coming out to see me.
To say I was frustrated is an understatement, apparently we don't qualify for any help from this particular agency. Nor did they really know who could help. I was told to call a line who could help.. so call them I did. The situation got worse from there, apparently according to their guidelines I can only receive respite for one child, I have two children with special needs and I have three children. So their supposed respite is useless to me. All I actually asked was for some domestic help and some respite once a month so I can go out with my husband.
After this phone call, the tears did flow actually they flowed quite freely on the phone too. I picture myself having a jar that gets filled every time that someone says no we can't help you, he doesn't fit our criteria, even from DSC the disability agency in our state I am told he doesn't fit our criteria, we have no services in your area. This time I had heard too much.
So from there I did two things: I rang Carers WA and spoke to their information advice line I was too emotionally upset to try and contact anyone else so they are going to call the local Carelink Worker, maybe I should have done that from the start. Next I googled (my friend) Mental Health Respite and rang a local agency, turns out the support worker is a good friend I worked with, lucky she had some ideas of creative thinking of how I can get some help. Also thinking of how she can go into bat for me with DSC as something or somehow I should be able to get something. A morning appointment has been booked next week to get the ball rolling.
To be honest I still feel a little raw and I feel that the tears are still close. One thing I know to get something you need sometimes requires some persistence and a knowledge that I do deserve what I am asking for which actually isn't much at all. This I learnt today respite and funding falls into the following categories, that I am aware of:
- DSC Funded respite, only available for clients who are registered with DSC
- HACC Funded respite, only for those who are over 65 and/or caring for someone of that age, the reasons behind why the services are provided is to keep people living independently as long as possible.
- Mental Health Respite, for families/carers associate with Mental Health
Respite and in home help in the form of domestic help, for others medical services and in home care are a vital service. I was astounded that a service which is designed to give you a break, to help you and help you cope better. Actually caused me more stress and tears than was necessary, it is so important that relevant accurate referrals are given to families, so vital. Whatever your situation is I encourage you to keep trying to get help when you need it whether it is:
- going out with a friend for coffee
- spending time with your partner
- having a night or day break from your caring role
- attending support groups
- taking the help that you can receive, even if you don't think you need it right now you might in the future
- listen to your body, listen to your emotions know how you are going, avoiding burnout is as simple as listening to what your body tells you and acting it.
- allowing family and friends to watch your children so you can get out and do something on your own
If you are going through a similar thing, please share what you are doing to look after yourselves, what respite you do access and how does that look for you?