Daughter’s mission to help ageing parents

GRACEMERE mum Cindy Kime has been a full-time carer for 18 years but working the system is still a task she struggles with.

She’s cared for her children, who have intellectual and behavioural disabilities, since they were born, but as her parents age she has added them to the list of people she cares for.

“They’re just getting into the stage now where I’m navigating to get them into the system for the Home Care Packages Program,” Ms Kime said.

The Home Care Packages Program is a government funded program, which assists elderly people with complex needs stay in their own home instead of going to an aged care facility.

People receiving home care packages are separated into four levels. from basic care to high-level care needs — the funding ranges from $8271 to $50,286.

While being an advocate comes second nature to Ms Kime, she said the system was hard to understand.

“Now things have changed with the Regional Assessment Service I don’t know what they’re eligible for,” she said.

“When you’re new to the system it’s working out which service provider to use — there is so many out there to suit my parents’ needs.”

The Regional Assessment Service engages 17 organisations to do face-to-face assessments of older people seeking entry-level support at home, which is the step before home care packages.

If approved by the RAS, elderly people can receive funding from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to pay for a range of services from transport, social support, domestic assistance and personal care to help seniors remain living independently at home.

Ms Kime’s parents, aged 75 and 85, aren’t at the stage where they require a home care package but she wants to be prepared for when they do.

“It’s helping them navigate the system,” she said.

“They’re little old pensioners with their life savings and they don’t know what’s out there.”

She attends Carers Queensland Rockhampton meetings to ensure she’s best informed.

When she attended in March, she was advised to approach the system for assessment before her parents needed help to avoid the wait.

A total of 1209 people in the Fitzroy region are receiving home care packages but almost as many people are waiting.

With 1157 people on the wait list, Ms Kime was worried her parents would be made to wait when they needed help.

“As carers we have peace of mind as long as we know they’re being looked after,” she said.

CentacareCQ is just one aged care service provider helping elderly Central Queenslanders receiving home care packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

CentacareCQ director Robert Sims said preparation was key for people with ageing family members.

“The biggest impact is the large number of clients who aren’t getting enough care,” Mr Sims said.

“It’s concerning. A nursing home is much more expensive and it takes away that choice, which is what the new system is all about.”

While the system is confusing Ms Kime is glad she has Carers Queensland’s Central Queensland team to help her.

“Carers Queensland are the gateway between us as carers and all the government departments — they’re there to help us,” Ms Kime said.

The organisation celebrated National Carers Week, October 13-19, at the Frenchville Sports Club last week to honour the effort of family members and advocates across the community.

Regional team leader Leigh O’Neil said carers were the “unseen army” in the region.

“Without them it would cost the government billions of dollars,” Ms O’Neil said.

“These people look after family members, some 24 hours a day.

One in every eight Australians is a carer, according to Ms O’Neil.

“Chances are, you personally are a carer, need a carer, or know a carer,” she said.

“Carers make an enormous contribution to our communities and our national economy.”

National Carers Week celebrates carers but it’s also the best time for the broader community to get involved, show their appreciation, and learn more about carers in Australia.”

About 60 people attended the lunch to celebrate carers.