I get by with a little help from my “friends”

When I first moved out of home I had to work out how to do the simple yet challenging things on my own. Things like taking out the rubbish, putting the dishes away, transferring the washing into the dryer and doing the grocery shopping. When I was living with my parents they did all these things and so it was never an issue. When I moved out of home and tried to do these things I could see that there was the potential for an accident to occur.  

My parents and I quickly worked out a routine where I would email them a shopping list and they would bring it over. I also decided to get my fruit and vegetables delivered once a week along with my supermarket shopping. However, I quickly realized that being one person, if I didn’t eat the fresh food straight away that it would go bad pretty quickly.

We also worked out that cleaning the flat was not possible. There was no way I could scrub the floors and vacuum as well. I could just imagine clutching to the walls as I dragged the vacuum and tripping over the cord. So we decided that I would use the cleaners they used. And that was fabulous. I would drive off to work leaving dishes in the sink and an unmade bed and come home to a sparkling kitchen and fresh linen on the bed.

Things were going pretty smoothly for a while. I’m sure I’ve written a number of entries about the process and my involvement with the local council with getting their help. So I won’t bore you with the details. However, at the beginning of the year I had this huge urge to get my life in order. Go back to work, go back to painting, learn how to become a radio host, etc. Just make my life a little neater. During this process I realized there was an easier way to get my life in order. An easier way and a cheaper way. But it meant getting help from strangers.

People with disabilities are able to apply for funding to pay for services such as carer support. As a social worker I know the process well and I know how long it takes to get the funding. My doctors all believe I have a legitimate reason to get the funding and they have written letters of support. Even with these letters I still have to do the application and wait in line just like everyone else.

In the mean time I spoke to an organization about getting different kind of funding package. And boy, were they quick. Within two weeks I had someone come to my house, complete the paper work and find carers.

It’s a wonderful thing really. They come to the house and they help with the things I need to get done. Since it’s early days they’ve only helped me with simple things like hanging out the washing, changing the dishes and changing the linen. The other carer and I went shopping for my weekly groceries. But I have to admit it’s different to having private cleaners. With carers the client is meant to stay with the carer at all times. I am not allowed to go out while they clean the flat. Usually people leave the house and get on with their lives.

I love that I am getting the support. I love that I don’t have to rely on my family as much as I have been. Friends and family also think it’s great. It’s just interesting making the transition of getting help from people who would help you no matter what and want to help you because they care to getting help from strangers. When I get help from loved ones I don’t feel useless, I feel cared for. When I get help from carers, I feel a little useless.

But my kitchen is looking pretty good and it’s nice getting into a freshly made bed. It’s a transition I’m willing to take.

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2 thoughts on “I get by with a little help from my “friends”

  1. It’s a thought-provoking piece. We live in a society where almost anything can be bought. It’s great to have a clean home, no question. The question is whether that cleanliness is as authentic, satisfying and meaningful as some thing (which may not be up to the standard of the paid for item or service)given out of love or caring. I’m not sure….

  2. Tully,

    I’m glad you highlighted the difference between private cleaners and publicly funded carers because we come into this problem on a daily basis with our clients – who are all war veterans – and have found that whilst they get great service from Department of Veterans’ Affairs Home Care/Home maintenance (now renamed to Veterans’ Care Assistance as of 1 May 2011) they have to stay home or stay with the carer who takes them shopping. They have also found that the Carers are limited with a LOT of tasks that they can do – they can vacuum your home and wash floors, but they aren’t allowed to move the couch to vacuum under it.

    It’s lovely to have the assistance and still maintain (mostly) your independence by paying for the service, but it’s no where near the same service that a family member gives out of love.

    Thanks so VERY much for sharing!

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