CARING for a disabled or chronically ill child is a demanding task that may last a lifetime, which is why it is so important for parents and other carers to get some regular respite.
While respite can come in the form of respite care, which gives carers time away to rest and devote time to themselves, it can also come in the form of support and understanding from others in the same situation.
MyTime peer support recognises that talking with other parents and carers in a social setting provides an opportunity to share the frustrations and the joys of being a carer.
The community has great sympathy for those in a caring role and, while it is important for carers to know this, the shared experience of other carers that creates empathy is what they need more.
That and the opportunity to relax and share information on a regular basis is vital.
Organisations such as the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, which promotes MyTime groups around the country, understand that to effectively support carers there needs to be regular opportunities to get together, as regular as the coffee mornings and social gatherings that parents without these additional demands enjoy.
When activities can be provided for children involved while speakers update the group on legal and medical issues, the result is practical support delivered in a setting and manner that makes the carer’s role a little easier on a day-by-day basis.
As parents and carers age the inevitable questions about support for dependent children with disabilities or chronic health issues grow larger and more urgent.
Government can lend its financial support, but while there is no substitute for that it cannot take the place of the support of others who understand the daily challenges and concerns for the future.