Our wonderful carer *Jane has shared with us her thoughts on being a foster carer during a global pandemic, read her firsthand account below.

Covid-19 has seen no shortage of challenges or stress. Being in lockdown with a high school kid, a primary school kid, two toddlers, two pets, one husband, work to do and the great toilet paper epidemic of 2020, I wondered how long it would be before my eyes started to twitch!

“COVID-19 time, It was a Thursday… next minute it was 3 days later..”

As a carer with CareSouth I can see how COVID-19 has impacted families, children and carers. All of a sudden, as a carer I had to juggle work life, home life, COVID restrictions, family Skype visits and on top of that – dare I say it – home schooling! Despite these challenging times, with the support of CareSouth, I feel that carers have united in new ways, through technology to help each other through times of isolation and to stay connected. Caresouth is going above and beyond to support their carers whilst, I’m sure, experiencing a multitude of new unique challenges themselves. I have been able to stay connected and updated via the newly created “CareSouth Carers” Facebook page and have been able to share information with other carers myself.

While I struggled to create a new routine at home (we all know how important this is for kids!) and tried to balance building volcanoes with work meetings, CareSouth came up with some initiatives for Illawarra carers which I’ve been excited to take part in. One of these initiatives is “Carer Reflective Practice”, online sessions enabling small groups of local carers to connect with a Senior Clinician. This has provided more focused support for myself as a carer, which I feel is much needed.

While looking different to the norm, regular check-ins have been continued via technology. This has been important to combat the feelings of isolation and ensure that as a carer, I felt continued support, especially while home-schooling children, managing visitations and all the extra things that come with being a carer – even if while trying to have these conversations the children were sitting under the desk and standing behind the computer signing “hungry” in sign language! For some reason I thought teaching a sign a day would be a great skill to learn during lockdown! On a brighter note, the caseworker couldn’t see the pile of folded laundry on the floor, or the fact I was still wearing pyjama pants at three o’clock in the afternoon.

It’s the little things that count and my family was very excited to receive a pack of goodies during lockdown that included a family board game and art and craft activities for the kids. It felt great that CareSouth was still thinking of carers and making us a priority during such crazy times! I was reminded of a quote that says, “We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges”. I believe as a carer with CareSouth, we are rising to the challenge and growing and learning, even if it’s just in year 9 maths! I am excited to see how things are evolving for carers and will continue to take advantage of new opportunities to connect. And while COVID-19 has brought its challenges, I’m hopeful that our learnings can continue to provide long term benefits for carers, families and the kids in our care.

*name has been changed