“The below quote from Rosalynn Carter, wife of former US President Jimmy Carter was given to me by Mr Hooton. Mr Hooton is a Barossa Village Resident, who felt that this would be an important topic to discuss and highlight to the wider community. I agree.

There are only four kinds of people in the world;

Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

– Rosalynn Carter

Rosalynn is a tireless advocate for protecting the rights of people with mental health conditions and the welfare of Senior Citizens in the US. This quote raises many different thoughts and issues – firstly what does being a caregiver mean? The word ‘care’ means lots of different things throughout the life cycle. Care according to the Oxford Dictionary definition is “the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something”. So by this definition it is an all-encompassing relationship with everyone around us. Therefore, we transcend all of the four different types of people at all times. Simply put – we are all caregivers and care receivers just in different measure.

At Barossa Village we are professional caregivers. We, through choice, have decided that we want to dedicate our talents and skills to provide care to elderly people. This is for staff an equally rewarding and often frustrating experience due to the fact that people are complex, and it is not just a relationship with the person who is the resident. It involves working in a team, supporting each other, adapting to each other needs, and ultimately caring for each other.

For family who are coming into our environment, it is often confronting changing from that intimate primary care giver role and taking a different care giving role. As defined, care is not just about the physical doing, it is also the emotional support that is provided. Residents provide this to staff as do the family friends and other residents to each other. Life is symbiotic.

I have had the privilege over the last 10 years to watch the strength and courage of one specific caregiver. Alison has been a constant presence by her husband Grant’s side through his time in Residential Care. Alison would still, despite the difficulties she had watching and experiencing her husband’s slow decline, talk with him, be with him, talk to staff and show an interest in the lives of the staff, other residents and their families. Alison would always ask how I was, and would listen to my worries, if there was time, and I to hers. So thank you Alison for being a wonderful example of how we can support and care for each other.

Care giving is a universal experience. Everyone at some point of their lives will have the privilege to receive or give care to people. Be conscious of this gift, give it, and receive it, graciously as often as you can.”

By Matt Kowald.

About Matt Kowald,  General Manager of Residential Care Services | MCISci B NgPrac

Matt commenced as General Manager, Residential Care Services, Barossa Village in May 2014. Matt’s working career started at Barossa Village as a carer in 1993 whilst he was studying his registered nursing degree. On gaining his registration Matt spent ten years working at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Flinders Medical Centre emergency departments. He then moved to the ACH Group where he worked in community programs and in an aged care liaison role from the Flinders Medical Centre. Matt comes to Barossa Village again after working at the Eudunda Hospital for seven years. Matt is passionate about aged care and recently completed a Masters in Clinical Science through the University of Adelaide focusing on the management of behaviours in dementia. Matt is involved in several aged care interest groups and local health advisory groups.

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