Caring for someone at a distance

Today, it is commonplace for families to be spread across different states and different countries as people move for job opportunities, affordability, health and lifestyle choices. 

No matter their situation, when a loved one receives a life changing diagnosis, caregivers may be at a loss as to how to provide the support they hope to.

Caring for someone at a distance

Today, it is commonplace for families to be spread across different states and different countries as people move for job opportunities, affordability, health and lifestyle choices. 

No matter their situation, when a loved one receives a life changing diagnosis, caregivers may be at a loss as to how to provide the support they hope to.

When Cliff’s father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Cliff and his family had just moved interstate. Settling into a new environment, working full time and school commitments meant it was not always possible to be with his parents. “We felt that physical assistance was necessary and our wish was always to get them to come to us so we could look after them but my parents chose to stay where they were.”

For many caregivers in this situation, accessing help and information can seem overwhelming and unattainable when so far away.  But with some planning, research and leveraging the resources that are available you can provide sufficient support, connection and care remotely.

Wendy, Violet’s Guide Manager says, “Online services are increasingly available as a way to connect with health professionals.  Many GPs, specialists and healthcare providers offer Telehealth which provides an opportunity for caregivers to be included in consultations.  Caregivers can speak to a registered nurse via the Australian Government online service HealthDirect.  The hotline is available 24/7.  Some apps also provide self-led support and opportunities for carers.”

Your GP, specialist or other healthcare providers will be able to direct you to home care services such as Meals on Wheels, visiting nurses and home help.  An occupational therapist can help you choose suitable aid equipment should you need to modify the home to make it easier and safer.  Access to benefits and programs to ease the financial impact may also be available in certain circumstances.

Some support groups are open to carers and offer the chance to share experiences and tips.  Connecting with others who have experienced something similar can make navigating the care system more manageable.

Cliff said, “We got most of the information from the palliative care people.  Dad was self-sufficient until close to his passing.  He organised transport himself and they used a local volunteer service to take them to appointments.  With Mum not able to drive, we organised an Uber account for when Dad was in hospital.  We also set up online shopping and an app to order and deliver medication.  Mostly people went to visit and took them for a shopping run and the neighbour helped with things such as the bin.”

Friends and neighbours may be enlisted to help, even if it is just a knock on the door to confirm all is OK.  Wendy says, “Friends will often express a willingness to help.”

6 tips that may make caring for a loved one remotely easier:

  1. Reach out for support. Violet's Guided Support program is free and run by trained volunteers with lived experience caring for a loved one. Find out more about the program here.
  2. Transport: Get in touch with local volunteer services, or set up an Uber account for your loved one.
  3. Groceries: You can arrange online shopping services that can deliver groceries to their door.
  4. Banking:  Organising online banking services will enable you or your loved one to manage their finances and pay bills at any time.
  5. Contact:  Utilise technologies such as Zoom or Facetime.  Not only will seeing your loved one bring them closer, it may inform you about how they are faring.
  6. Join an online community:  Peer groups, like Violet’s Time to Share, are a great source of tips and information and can help you anticipate and plan for obstacles before they occur.

When caring for a loved one at a distance it’s important to remember it is not necessary or possible to provide all of the care yourself.  Fortunately, there are a multitude of services available to help you plan and organise the support needed.

If you are unsure where to start, a session with a Violet Guide can help you better understand where you are in you role of carer and how to prepare for what's ahead. All our Guides have lived experience and can understand the journey you're on.

 

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