Providing support pathways for local carers
Published on 03 August 2021
Mildura Rural City Council has created Pathways for Carers to offer support and time out for local residents caring for loved ones.
Pathways for Carers is a joint project between Council, Interchange Outer East and the Victorian Government, offering monthly guided walks for local carers featuring complimentary morning tea and information sessions with local service providers.
Councillor for Community Development and Gender Equality Helen Healy said the project aimed to improve the well-being of local carers, describing them as ‘unsung heroes’ in our community.
“Caring for a loved one can be demanding and isolating, and many dedicated carers in our community give themselves tirelessly to providing this valuable support, but it can sometimes come at an emotional cost,” Cr Healy said.
“Pathways for Carers is a support group that can provide time out for these amazing people, allowing them to connect with others in similar situations, share their experiences and hear from local service providers.”
Pathways for Carers launches on 18 August and will be held monthly on Wednesdays.
People interested in joining Pathways for Carers can visit mildura.vic.gov.au/CarersWalkingGroup to find out more, and register your interest.
For more information contact Project Officer Jeni Snadden on 03 5018 8100 or email@example.com
Carers are without doubt amongst the unsung heroes of our community, sacrificing much of their own independence, freedom and even self-identity to be there for those close to them.
Mildura’s Sandra Summerton has been a carer for close to 18 years, acting as the primary carer for both her son, Jonathan, who passed away late last year, and her husband, Garry.
“Every carer will tell you that it is one of the hardest roles you will ever play in someone’s life – but you do it anyway,” Sandra said.
"As a parent and a wife, it’s just what we do – we don’t even think about it when someone we love is affected.”
Sandra’s story starts 18 years ago, when Jonathan was involved in a serious accident that left him with a developed traumatic brain injury and epilepsy.
“Then in 2005 he suffered a seizure at home, and aspirated. He was living alone at the time and we didn’t find him for 12 hours.
“At that point he had lost oxygen to his brain, and spent five months in hospital before he was allowed to come home.”
From that point Sandra became Jonathan’s primary carer.
“He couldn’t remember things, couldn’t make decisions – he had the maturity level of someone much younger than his years,” she said.
It wasn’t long after before Sandra’s husband also became unwell.
“I was soon caring for both of them,” Sandra said. “As a carer, you become a frequent flyer with the ambulance. It’s tablets, routine, hospital visits, appointments.”
Sandra, who is also a member of the Sunraysia Carer’s Group, said feelings of isolation are very common for carers.
“Many carers talk about that feeling of isolation – you’re home caring for one or two people, and maybe you’ve lost your circle of friends, so connection becomes important from that point of view," she said.
“Carers form a fellowship when they get together. It’s nice to be able to talk to others, and share experiences and learnings.
“It’s why initiatives like the Mildura Pathways for Carers Walking Group are so important.
“Being a carer, you need a bit of time to yourself, and I love walking. It’s a time for reflection, to rest – to sit back and watch the ducks swim in the river.
“I certainly encourage carers in our town to consider joining this fantastic new Walking Group. We all need companionship, and this is an opportunity to meet others, connect and share, and also understand that you’re not alone.”