Five years ago, Harry was caravanning around Australia with his wife and soul mate, Gale. But when he was diagnosed with a debilitating and progressive neurological disorder, it put an abrupt end to their life on the road.
He spent several months in Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital, and his family then relocated him and his wife to Toowoomba, to be close to Gale’s family, medical support and services.
Harry lost his full independence and ability to perform basic activities of daily living on his own. Daily life became a struggle, both physically and emotionally, and he felt like nothing but a burden, especially to his wife.
Neither of them wanted to see Harry in residential care, so they reached out for support and services in the community to try and remain living at home. Home Instead Senior Care, Toowoomba, provided them with a team of care givers, including Jessica.
“She looked and spoke to me like I was a person, and not a client with daily challenges -like I mattered,” Harry says. “I honestly don’t believe I would survive without the level of care and services provided. It gives us both peace of mind.”
Along with personal care, Jessica helps Harry show his love and appreciation for Gale. One of his favourite activites is arranging little surprises to show Gale what she means to him.
For their 50th wedding anniversary, Jessica helped him surprise Gale with a special dinner at a restaurant. Gale’s favourite flowers were delivered, along with an anniversary cake to share with the family.
“I wanted to be able to surprise my wife on this special occasion, and with Home Instead Senior Care and Jessica’s assistance we were able to share a lovely life moment together,” he says.
Jessica has been a care giver since 2017, logging over 2,500 hours of personal care and travelling over 5,000km to help her clients.
“People like Harry are a true reason why I love and thoroughly enjoy caregiving,” Jessica says. “Harry is always very, very appreciative. We share our hearts, our stories, have a good laugh. We always have a lovely, positive day.”
She has been supporting Harry for over two years, and also assists and supports Gale.
Jessica helps Harry with his personal care, social interaction and walking, provides mobility assistance and helps improve and support his quality of life, independence, health and well-being.
“This allows him to focus on the simple, most beautiful things in his life, such as the love he has for his wife Gale, and to cherish their life together,” Jessica says.
At times, Harry can become emotionally frustrated and saddened by his physical challenges, and feels like a burden.
“I always tell him not to be so hard and down on himself and do my best to keep him in a positive frame of mind,” Jessica says.
On Thursdays, Jessica and Harry have an eight hour respite to allow his wife Gale to attend to her appointments and outings with family and friends.
“I love the fact that after our respite shift on Thursdays, without fail, Harry always says, “Thanks for looking after me,” and my response is, as always, “Thanks for looking after me”,” Jessica says.
Jessica was recognised for her dedication and commitment when was named Home Instead Senior Care’s Australian CAREGiver of the Year in 2019.
But she says doesn’t consider caregiving a job. “I consider it a calling in my life,” she says.
“I love the uniqueness of each client, knowing their life stories, being able to assist with promoting and encouraging independence, health and well-being.
“It is most rewarding and self-satisfying, knowing I contribute to making a positive difference in a client’s life, make them smile and assist to ease any stress, struggles and hardship.”