Jennelle, 69, has cared for her husband, David, since 2013. She recently welcomed her mum into her home as well.
Now retired from cleaning the local mines, you can find Jennelle in the garden or in her converted granny flat with her crafting supplies.
All in a day’s work
Jennelle’s life changed suddenly in 2013 when her husband David fell from a grain silo at work - an accident he wasn’t expected to survive.
In the first few years after his accident, Jennelle provided daily care to David and organised medical care and appointments, while working full-time. David has since recovered, but the accident left him with a brain injury that sometimes affects his speech. He also now lives with physical limitations.
In January 2020, Jennelle and David welcomed Jennelle’s mother, Pam into their NSW home.
At 89 years old, Pam needs ongoing care and support due to her age. Having to care for her mum, Jennelle had to leave her much-loved job in 2021.
Jennelle regularly manages the grocery shopping, washing, cleaning, dishes and general household tasks. Now with her mum living with her, she also takes her to appointments and tries to schedule manageable, wheelchair-friendly activities outside of the house to help her mum stay social.
'Sometimes asking for help is just another thing on my to-do list.'
Providing care, especially in the years following the COVID outbreak, has been a lonely journey for Jennelle. Her siblings can’t provide the support they had promised her with their mum, and Jennelle struggles with the confinement and isolation of her caring situation.
Along with managing care for her mum and husband, Jennelle also manages her own depression, diabetes and arthritis.
'The most difficult part of our situation is the lack of family support,” shared Jennelle. “When they do visit, I encourage them to take mum out for lunch or a walk, so she’s not stuck in the house all the time.'
Despite the difficulties, Jennelle tries to stay focused on the positive. 'One of the greatest things about being a carer is bonding and connecting with my mum,' said Jennelle.
'She’s not in and out of hospital now like she was when she was living on her own. I feel like I’m making a real difference with the care I provide to her,' she adds.
More than a carer
When she’s not wearing her ‘carer hat’, Jennelle loves to travel, garden and sew. Crafts are a big creative outlet for Jennelle and she meets with a craft group weekly.
Her advice to carers is to make time for yourself and don’t give up everything.
'Before COVID, I made sure to put time aside for myself to see my friends, kids and grandkids. These are important relationships to me and I want to make sure they still get the attention they need.'
Support for when you need it
With 90% of the care responsibility falling on Jennelle, she is grateful for the support she’s found through Carer Gateway. From occasional help with the housework, to counselling services and community forums, Carer Gateway is helping Jennelle manage it all. Carer Gateway has helped manage some of the daily tasks that Jennelle has to juggle, while also helping her learn new ways of managing tough times.
'As a carer, it’s important for me to know that Carer Gateway is here' said Jennelle.
This year, Jennelle will use respite care so her mum is cared for while she takes a short break.