Toni Dunshea reflects on her life as a carer.
Toni Dunshea reflects on her life as a carer.

Carers week spreading awareness

EACH time Toni Dunshea walked out her door on her own she felt an overwhelming surge of fear.

A constant barrage of “what ifs” would cloud her mind with what would happen to her daughter, Fern, should the unthinkable happen.

“Being a carer in the disability sector, what gets you is a lack of spontaneity,” Mrs Dunshea said.

“You can't go anywhere without having an arrangement of what happens if you don't return. I used to think, ‘what would happen if I get hit by a bus'.”

Mrs Dunshea spent about 10 years as a full-time carer for Fern, who has Downs Syndrome, until, in May this year Fern, 32, decided it was time for her to move out of home.

Through that time, Mrs Dunshea experienced almost all the struggles carers deal with each week and which are being highlighted in Carer's Week, which runs until Saturday.

Mrs Dunshea said one of the biggest problems facing carers was finding enough respite to give a precious break.

“There is never enough respite. When you get a break it's usually only a couple of hours .”

“When I became a carer I got involved in the carers groups here because I started to feel very isolated.”

Mrs Dunshea said working with carer groups had helped her through the ups and downs of caring for her daughter, simply by understanding what she was going through.

“There was one mother I knew who was having difficulties getting her child to drink from a straw and it wasn't until another mother gave her some advice that she was able to do it,” she said.

“No doctor or physio or occupational therapists were able to help with something like that but another carer could.”

But Mrs Dunshea has not cut her ties with the carer community, helping organise tomorrow's Carer's Expo at the Bundaberg Civic Centre.

“It is mostly information directed at carers to support them in their own life, to find service providers and to find places which provide services for carers,” she said.

The expo will run from 9am-2.30pm. To book phone 4194 6597.



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