I recently moved from Gippsland to Carnegie with my son Ben. He’s 11 and has autism with global developmental delay. We enrolled Ben in a local special school but I wasn’t sure where to start looking for respite and recreation services.
I was also struggling a bit as Ben wasn’t coping well with the move. His behaviour was a bit more erratic. I’m happy in Melbourne but I miss the people who know me well and we had good networks at home.
One of the women at Ben’s school mentioned Carer Services when I said I was looking for school holiday activities. I was all over the place at the time because I’d had some sleepless nights with Ben. She gave me the number to call. It was so great having a person to talk to and it’s comforting to know the service operates 24/7.
Ultimately I was referred to a carer support worker who settled me down and helped me to focus on some goals. I feel a lot more supported and confident. My carer support worker also helped with organising some activities for Ben (called respite) to give me a break on weekends and so he has some time doing fun things away from me. Just having a few hours to myself on Saturday afternoon, and knowing that Ben is safe and busy is fantastic.
I also use the Respite South website which has lots of information for me and Ben; including the fortnightly newsletter.
We asked Josie to summarise how using Carer Services helped:
I feel more settled now that I have support and a plan of action
I get a small carer payment from Centrelink
Ben is involved in a drama group and goes swimming with a carer
so I have some time to myself
I have met some other mums who also have kids with a disability
and we catch up regularly
I have some other contacts that I can follow up on.