Home Care Consumer

For the past 6 years I’ve volunteered for COTA Queensland, initially as a Peer Educator, providing free information sessions to seniors in the community and more recently as a Community Peer Navigator in the local library, supporting older people to access relevant services and supports to enable them to live well and stay connected.

I live on Bribie Island, I’m a widower and I’m in my mid 70’s. I have a home care support worker visit every Tuesday to help with vacuuming, cleaning floors and cleaning the toilet. They don’t have a regular time slot so they can arrive anytime.

For me, one of the key attributes of a good care worker is having an underlying caring attitude because you’re walking into people’s homes, you’re being welcomed and invited in and you’re socially interacting with them. It takes a special person. The right care worker adds little sunshine to people’s lives. So many people are isolated or not connected and the only person they have contact with all week is their carer.

I’m approved for help with gardening and home maintenance as well but there isn’t anyone currently available. (Why can’t we get more unemployed people into Home Care?) So, I’ve had to start doing some serious thinking about my future. I want to stay living in my own home, but the physical capabilities needed to do the gardening and home maintenance combined with my balance issues and risk of blacking out may force me to consider moving into assisted housing. I’ve been asking myself, “Do I move, or do I stay?”

I understand the challenges of being a home care support worker, my late wife worked in the role. Here on the Island, there are probably 50-100 care workers. Sometimes they need to go off the Island. I wonder if that would be the case if they were allocated by area?

In terms of the support workers I do have – I’ve had one lady visit 3 times, mostly though, different people come every week. There’s a lady on the Island who has Dementia and she’s had the same carer for many years. However, recently they’ve started to arrive on different days and times. It’s so important for someone with Dementia to have consistency in terms of a regular person visiting on the same day, same time each week, otherwise it causes confusion.

Support workers need to care, without crossing boundaries. They need to work outside of their structured training. The path is not a straight line, it’s a wobbly line.

I’ve signed up for University of Tasmania’s ‘Understanding Dementia’ free online course, so I can improve my own knowledge and understanding of dementia. I’m coming in to contact more and more with people with dementia and I want to know how best to respond and support them.

I also believe things are best kept simple, otherwise people are easily confused. Keeping changes to a minimum, change itself can be confusing to many older people. Just try and make all dealings simple, seamless, and straight forward. In essence, put yourself in the client’s world when you’re with them and recognize that we, the clients are all at different stages in life with varying needs and various levels of understanding.