National Carers Week is a time to recognise and celebrate the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend. Looking after someone with an illness or disability can take a huge toll on a carer’s own health and family life, so it’s important that carers receive support of their own.
Helen McLean, the CEO of Carer and Community Support and a member of Accept Care’s advisory board, has an extensive history working with not-for-profits and within the community care industry. We were thrilled to sit down with her to learn more about the importance of National Carers Week.
Tell us about your role at Carer and Community Support and what the company does.
I am really privileged to be the CEO of Carer and Community Support. I am relatively new to the position commencing in February this year. Carer and Community Support provide Aged Care services under the Commonwealth Home Service Program fondly known as CHSP, and support for Carer through the South Australian Governments Community Connections Program.
Where does the funding come from?
We receive funding from the Department of Health which is Federal funding, and Department of Human Services, which is State based funding.
Why is it so important for carers to be able to access support?
There are approximately 2.6 million unpaid carers in Australia. Many of whom have sacrificed their careers, regular income and superannuation to look after someone who is unable to look after themselves. Unpaid carers underpin health and aged care systems in Australia. It’s time to recognise and care for unpaid carers.
Why do you think National Carers Week is important?
National Carers Week is an opportunity to highlight the challenges and struggles of being a 24/7/365 day a year carer. National Carers Week puts Carers on the Australian Agenda, and helps people understand they are not alone.
We’re lucky to have you (and your wealth of knowledge) on our advisory board, what experience do you bring to this role?
I feel very fortunate to be part of such an exceptional organisation such as Accept Care. Being part of the committed client centred team is a joy. My Executive background is in disability, aged care, mediation, industrial relations/HR, Executive Management, and Auditing.
What inspired you to work in the community care industry?
My mother actually. She was a nurse at the Mt Gambier Hospital before my sisters and I were born. She would often tell me a story about walking to work for the very early shift, and she would make an additional sandwich or two for Bert who she would find on the park bench. As a child I guess I didn’t understand homelessness, but I understood hopelessness. I always thought that my mum had given Bert the gift of hope.
If you are an unpaid carer and feel like you may need some extra support, please reach out to Carer and Community Support here. Asking for support isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength and courage.