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“I used to be very stubborn but then I said no, Mirella you need help. I was physically and mentally drained.”

A Carer Gateway story

Mirella is the primary carer for her 82-year-old mother-in-law, Laila. They live with Mirella’s husband and four daughters in Revesby, in south-west Sydney. Laila has always lived with Mirella’s family.

“She used to be very independent, and I helped her sometimes with certain things but after going through surgery last year – she had four surgeries within two months - she just went backwards.

“It was a rollercoaster. I went through a lot and then we were in covid lockdown and family couldn’t come and visit, or I couldn’t get help,” said Mirella.

After returning home from hospital, Laila requires help getting in and out of bed, dressing and showering, exercise, all meals and of course her medications. Mirella’s husband is also on a disability pension because he has a very bad back.

“I realised I just needed help with the physical hardship work because I was on my own, and I had the kids, my husband..I needed some help,” she said.

Mirella contacted Wellways after a friend told her about the Carer Gateway. “I rang them up and we had a chat and I said, look I need help, can you provide me with someone to help me with my mum a couple of days a week, a couple of hours a day to help with showering, dressing etc.

“Chi comes three times a week, two hours a day. Honestly, I thank God every day. She walks her up and down the street, she has strengthened her legs, and this means there isn’t as much pressure on me and my back,” she said.

Wellways through the Federal Government’s Carer Gateway provides support services for unpaid carers including in-person and home-based counselling.

Mirella has also been able to access coaching and counselling through Wellways. She says the coaching sessions have been incredibly helpful. “She helped me to understand our role as carers and helped me through it all. She was amazing. I was so much happier, I was managing to help my mum more,”explains Mirella.

She has also had counselling – a session every fortnight – and has a few more sessions scheduled. Mirella says everyone has noticed a change in her.

“Chi was meant to finish a few weeks ago and I rang Wellways to ask for emergency respite, and they were so fantastic to give her to me for another 6 weeks…Honestly God bless ‘em..and when Aged Care kicks in I can afford to have her for more days and more hours as part of the Level 4 Home Care Package.”

Carer Gateway is a national approach to providing reliable carer services, support and advice to unpaid carers.

Services are delivered in-person, online and via phone, and are available free of charge.

Through Carer Gateway service providers such as Wellways can provide:

• carer needs assessment and support planning

• in-person and phone-based counselling

• in-person and online peer support

• Tailored financial packages with a focus on employment, education and transport

• emergency respite care

• online self-guided coaching

• information and advice

• assistance with navigating relevant, local services available to carers through federal, state and local government and non-government providers, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), My Aged Care and palliative care.