Felicity’s life has changed a lot over the last eight months. After her father was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND), and the onset of dementia, she decided it was a good idea that he live with her and her husband. She reduced her full-time hours as a Child Psychologist and adapted her daily routine to take on her self-assigned role as a carer for her father.
Along with the challenges and sacrifices she has experienced, her story highlights the simple pleasures and joys she has experienced when she took the time to slow down and enjoy those precious moments with her family.
“Dad moved in with me in February 2019. Prior to that I was providing him care in his own home since November last year,” says Felicity.
“I was increasingly taking care of domestic chores; cooking, preparing food, paying bills and running every day errands.”
“MND and dementia are conditions that deteriorate and degenerate over time. The role of the carer changes. If you take that responsibility on yourself, you have to be careful about letting it take over. I could have outsourced his physical care needs, but what dad can’t get from anyone else is the emotional support, connection and companionship he gets from his family.” She connected with VMCH earlier in 2019, when she found the NDIS application process complicated. Their case manager helped them to plan the right NDIS package.
“As a listening ear, VMCH offered unbiased support as to where to find carers who would suit dad,” says Felicity.
“They linked me in with a few possible organisations and pointed me in the right direction to find resources that I could upskill myself with. Although I’ve had training in how to give emotional support, there’s a lot you aren’t prepared for. Especially with dad’s condition, which I hadn’t been previously exposed to. VMCH explained more about their respite packages and the options that were available to us. VMCH were there when I needed them.”
Felicity also looked into day program options for her dad in Lysterfield or Pakenham, when she felt like she wasn’t coping. She said that the idea that there were day programs and overnight options out there that could be tailored to her dad’s needs was a weight off– a safety net that was there if she needed it. Felicity’s dad currently has carers coming in four times a week, and she receives advice on VMCH about how to maximise the NDIS and answered her many questions, and alleviated the anxiety of looking after someone with a degenerative condition
Felicity says life, and her relationship with her dad have changed. Making her new lifestyle work has been one of the toughest parts of her year, but the quality time she has with her dad is more important than working full time.
“My job will always be there. But this time I have with dad is only a short window. In the last year, I’ve become increasingly aware that you don’t get to enjoy the special, joyful moments unless you slow down and pause in the simplicity of life. Often you can’t plan for them, they just happen when you are in the moment. It’s at times like these when the everyday becomes the extraordinary.”
To learn more about VMCH’s Young Carer’s Program call 1300 971 720.