Support For Carers

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Manning Support Services Inc (MSS) provides a variety and number of services to residents of the Manning, Great Lakes, Gloucester and Hastings areas. One of the services, the National Respite for Carers program, is funded by the Federal Department of Health & Ageing.


The National Respite for Carers program provides a respite service for the carers of people who are aged, frail and those suffering from disabilities such as memory loss. A few hours a week can mean the world of difference to the carer and provide their loved ones with social interaction, outings, stimulation and challenges.

MSS is proud to be able to re-open Parkside, after the devastating June floods. The building is now spic and span, with a new kitchen, coat of paint and spruced up interior. Parkside is situated adjacent to the clock in Fotheringham Park. MSS has developed a number of new services to operate from the facility as part of the reopening. One of these is the Respite Drop in Day Program.

Tell us about the Respite Drop in Day Program? 

The MSS Respite Drop In Day Program resulted from a need identified by local residents. Existing carers had expressed exhaustion and frustration in regards to the difficulties faced when they needed to attended basic appointments.

A carer recalled a time when they had been out shopping, and they could normally leave their loved one with a coffee in the coffee shop while they did the weekly shop. Because of the often subtle progression, which is so often unidentified and easily missed, on this one occasion they left their loved one with a coffee, only to return to find they had wandered off.

The anxiety the carer felt was immense. What was once an easy task had now become onerous, as they now had to supervise their loved one at all times. The physical and emotional demands that a weekly shopping trip poses is challenging and exhaustive for both parties. The MSS Drop in Centre will allow for loved ones to be supervised and provided with meaningful activities. This allows time for the carer to attend to shopping, banking and any other appointments, or even pop in and see a movie, lunch, or coffee with friends.

The implementation of this initiative provides a means of social interaction in a caring and supportive environment for older people and individuals with disabilities such as memory loss. How might the community benefit from this program?

There are a number of community benefits. The drop In centre provides a break for carers that enhances their ability to cope and may prevent their loved ones early entry into residential care – which of course, is costly, emotionally difficult on families and is often a ‘last resort’.

What we are able to provide allows loved ones to stay in their own homes, while carers are able to continue to attend to errands without having to worry about their loved ones. At times where a loved one has wandered, a number of resources, including local police, retail staff, shopping centre security, friends and family assist in locating them. By providing a safe venue where people can come for as little as 15 mins or for the full day if required, MSS not only gives the carer peace of mind, but also alleviate the stress and pressure on community resources.

Importantly, the centre provides the carer with some well-deserved respite and time out …  

The Respite Drop in Day Program allows the carer the opportunity to:

• Attend appointments

• Shopping and Banking

• Catch up with friends

• Watch a movie

• Pursue their own leisure interests

• Have some general ‘me’ time.

Plans to launch the program in July 2011 were marred by the preceding floods – tell us about this?

The June floods were catastrophic, with the flood waters several feet deep throughout the building. MSS lost all of their resources, the furniture and even the kitchen. The paint bubbled off the walls, and there was a fine layer of silt over the floors and skirtings.

MSS staff and the Greater Taree City Council worked together to mop, clean and renovate, install a new kitchen, repaint the interior and bring in new equipment. MSS now has a facility that will do the Drop In Centre proud.

What sort of outdoor and indoor activities can individuals expect to participate in?

The centre is located in the Parkside Building at Fotheringham Park, adjacent to the picturesque Manning River. It will provide:

• An opportunity for gentle walks around the park and other outside activities, e.g. bowls, quoits and Tai Chi.

Indoor activities such as:

• Bingo  • Card games  • Music • Reminiscing

• Craft activities • Nintendo Wii games

• Utilising the local library • Watching a DVD

• Social interaction in a caring and supportive environment.

• A chance to have a fun day away from their home.

How can you reassure carers that their loved ones will be looked after with the utmost care?

All MSS staff are qualified and experienced. MSS staff are supported by a number of caring volunteers that have been screened and trained in all aspects of client care. The care and activities provided are person centred and tailored to the individuals’ needs and goals.

For peace of mind, staff carry mobiles and are able to be contacted throughout the day, and all carers’ numbers are available to staff in the case of emergency. As a bonus, homemade morning and afternoon tea is provided, as well as a variety of nutritious lunch options (MSS can also cater for dietary needs).

When is the Respite Drop in Day Program starting?

The program has had its training wheels on in January 2012 and is now operating in full swing! Anyone interested is welcome to contact our Team Leader, Sue Martin, for assessment and eligibility on 6551 1800.

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