At AQA Qualcare we recognise the importance of the valuable role unpaid Carers play in supporting people with a disability to live independently in the community. This type of support is usually provided by family members such as partners, parents and siblings often with limited opportunities to take a break, plan for a holiday or appointment and respond to unexpected events in life such as illness. For these reasons respite is fundamental to supporting families to maintain ongoing routines, manage life’s challenges and reduce stress levels.
Regular Planned Respite
Carers can plan a regular ongoing break which in turn means that they can plan what they will do during this time each week. These programs provide regular, frequent support at agreed times on a daily or weekly basis enabling the Carer to participate in community activities, appointments, work, study, leisure activities or social outings.
Flexible Respite Options
Flexible respite packages give Carers the opportunity to plan what they would like to use their respite package for without being locked in to a regular weekly time slot. This allows Carers to plan for holidays or short breaks, attend infrequent meetings or appointments or attend a special occasion / event.
Emergency respite responds to the need for additional support at short notice arising from unforeseen, unplanned events. These events can include carer illness or injury, family emergency where a carer is called away or unable to play their usual role.
Applicants for AQA Qualcare Respite must be:
Referral can be made by the individual, case manager, family member or any other relevant party with your permission.
Qualcare receives an annual grant from Department of Human Services to provide respite services and therefore available funds are limited. Where no funding is currently available to provide a service referrals are placed on a waiting list. When funds become available applicants are assessed based on current circumstances to determine priority of access.
For more information contact the intake worker:
(03) 9482 4373
At 20 years old, our precious daughter Sam’s future was incredibly bright.
Like any parents, we were extremely proud of the young woman Sam was becoming. She had a strong social conscience and she was putting it into practice, studying Social Work and volunteering at the International Women’s Development Agency. Her considerate and warm nature made her popular, and she had a very large network of friends.
One thing you should know about Sam, is that she has always been fiercely independent and determined. While at University she put her studies on hold for a few months, bought a 4 Wheel Drive and set off to explore Australia. She loved the adventure.
When Sam was 21 years old, everything changed.
After returning from her trip around Australia Sam started experiencing numbness in parts of her body. She had pain behind her eyes and occasional tingling in her face. For months the doctors had no explanation.
Eventually a specialist gave us a diagnosis. Sam had an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The news was completely devastating. We were all in shock. In reality, at that time we didn’t know much about MS. We thought maybe we had somehow caused it? We just didn’t know. We soon learnt what causes MS is still largely unknown, but it is a condition that these days is affecting more and more young adults and even children.
Looking back we could see that there were signs for MS even two years before we got the diagnosis. Sam had complained of pins and needles, and vertigo. It was nothing you could put your finger on, but they were the early signs.
With an aggressive form of MS, we started to notice changes in Sam quite soon after her diagnosis. Each year there were definite deteriorations in Sam’s abilities and the hold that the disease had on her became more apparent. Soon Sam was having trouble walking, and finally she succumbed to needing an electric wheelchair. She also started losing her sight.
Sam’s condition required high level care but she refused to go into an aged care nursing home, which is often the only alternative for people needing such support. Sam said, “Just because I have a chronic illness doesn’t mean that I will go into a ‘house of death’. I refuse to go – anything is better than that”. We were fortunate enough to find a small unit through the Ministry of Housing for her, where with our support she can live out her dream of having some independence.
Sam’s determination has served her well. Despite the huge challenges, Sam went back to University to study Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT. With the help of a scribe to type her notes and assignments, Sam completed her degree and graduated in 2010. Finishing the course was a real triumph. Going to the graduation ceremony was a big highlight for Sam, and for us of course.
Now at 42 years old, Sam’s MS is very advanced. She has severe physical and sensory impairments which mean she cannot feed or dress herself. She can’t read or write and her speech is affected, making it very difficult for her to communicate. When we asked recently about what MS has taken away that she misses the most, Sam told us it was her speech. Not being able to socialise and communicate with people properly is devastating.
With such high level disabilities, Sam now needs full time care; that’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She is completely reliant on the support of others. Sam has been granted a funding package that entitles her to 52 hours of disability support per week, for 47 weeks of the year. Clearly, this isn’t enough and so we care for Sam for the remaining 100 plus hours every week.
Caring for Sam is a labour of love, but the hours of care do take their toll. That’s why respite is so important to us. We’re now almost in our seventies but the one thing we cannot afford is to get ill ourselves; not when Sam is so reliant on us. We need to be here and well for her.
AQA’S respite service is extremely valuable to our family. It allows us to plan and do the things we need to. It provides us with the break we desperately need now and then to recharge our batteries and maintain our health so we can continue supporting Sam to achieve her dreams.
Brian and Jan