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Reflections of a Carer

~from a volunteer of the Victorian AIDS Council community support services who provide practical and emotional support to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).


When l first joined South 10 years ago as a 'newie' l had no real idea what my role as a carer was going to be- l just knew that South had an expectation that l would be attending monthly meetings and training sessions which l knew was not too much to ask of anybody who was giving their time to such a worthwhile cause.


At my second meeting l was approached by a Care-Team Co-ordinator who was looking for a carer to join a team for a client in a bayside suburb who needed social support on a Monday afternoon so his partner could have time-out to do shopping and to pay bills etc. I was then introduced to the Care-Team Leader and after some discussion between all concerned, regarding my time availability, a suitable time was arranged for us all to meet.


Just after this his condition quickly went downhill and he was soon re-hospitalised which meant more visits to the hospital where we spent time doing more hands-on-care - feeding, bathing, and comforting a partner and a mother.
Frank and l supported each other and from that a very strong friendship grew.

Sadly, in August of that year the client passed away with his partner and his mother by his side- unfortunately his father arrived two days later. I was phoned by the hospital staff in the early hours of the morning and after a quick shower l made my way to Fairfield hospital to spend time with a mother and a partner saying goodbye to the client.
Even at the time of the client's passing his mother was unaware of her son's true medical status, but with the assistance of the appropriate people this was fully explained to her, adding to her grief. Thankfully, her husband was able to hastily rearrange his work commitments and arrived from overseas in time to support his wife at their son's funeral service which was conducted by a priest in the family's native language.

I continued to support the client's partner for some considerable time after his 'in-laws' returned home - as a friend outside the Support 'umbrella'.

Over the years since l have been involved in a number of other Care-Teams which have also been more hands-on-caring. However, l now support a client whose needs are more social and emotional, as he keeps quite good health.
Like may other carers, l have noticed the changing needs in our roles over the years from short-term hands-on care to long-term care consisting mainly of more emotional and social support.

story by Peter, Australia - 1999

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