Carers help other carers in Fraser Coast support groups
FRASER Coast carers are finding support from others living in similar circumstances.
Carer support groups provide a sense of community, a sense of identity (thereby reducing stigma), a sense of normalcy, an empathetic environment where there is non-judgmental mutual support and assistance.
They also provide opportunities to learn new skills of approaching everyday functioning and are a sounding board to discuss fears and concerns and to provide information and support about carer issues.
The Hervey Bay support group met last Friday and welcomed carer Vicki to her first meeting.
Vicki cares for a teenager who has had autism spectrum disorder since birth and she said everything went well during the early years until the teenager started high school.
"That's when things escalated but I cope with whatever happens. I'm a single mum and caring for her has brought out a lot of emotional changes," Vicki said.
"I've had the low self esteem, frustration and loneliness and had no friends. People don't understand what it's like because they haven't been in the same situation.
"I live day by day when everything gets on top of me," Vicki said.
"I saw myself falling down, I was crying all the time and feeling sick and other people saw what I didn't.
"The Carers Queensland counsellor recommended the group to me and I'm hoping to meet other people in the same position," she said.
Bob has a similar story. He has cared for an elderly woman for 10 years and has been going to the support group meetings for around five years.
"I just have to get away for a bit and I see this as a break away from my responsibilities as a carer," Bob said.
Wide Bay team leader Christine Schultheis said the Maryborough Carer Support Group members enjoy their meetings for many reasons.
"Some of them say they like the company of people who understand and know that you aren't whingeing.
"Others like to keep up with other carers and pass on different ways that may help to ease their caring problems, especially people who are new to their role," Christine said.
"And there are those who learn more about caring by participating in a group situation and for new carers, the friendship and shoulders are appreciated."