By Jacqui Graham | Posted: Thursday October 20, 2016
As a respite carer, you can make a huge, positive difference to a child’s life. Caregiver Val shares her story and explains what makes caregiving so worthwhile.
Val has been caregiving for Anglican Family Care for over eight years – she made the decision to help when she was working as a dental therapist in Dunedin schools, a job she recently retired from after 43 years of service. “Some children would come into the dental clinic and I just wanted to take them home and give those children a hug, clean clothes and food”.
Over the years Val has provided respite care for many children and currently has three children who come to her, either once a fortnight or once a month, for 28 nights spread out across a year. There have been occasions where she has provided short-term care for out-of-town children whose parent was admitted to hospital temporarily.
Val does not do this all on her own - she has a team to help her, which includes her brother, her large network of extended family and friends, her dog Pippa and cat Max. Pippa has been invaluable with the children over the years and she has helped teach them responsibility and empathy as well as foster emotional, cognitive and social development. Val recalled a time when a young child she was caring for was hesitant of Pippa but over time, really took ownership of her - grooming, feeding and walking Pippa. Val is a firm believer that if the children can see pets as part of a family unit it really helps to settle them.
Val’s brother also plays a big role, particularly with some of the young boys Val has cared for. He owns a small farm close to Dunedin and is also a member of his local volunteer fire brigade, so Val and the children can sometimes be found working out on the farm or down at the fire station cleaning the appliances.
Weekends at Val’s are busy. You will often find her and the children baking, crafting, cooking or gardening and often they will have “treat” days and head into town for a few hours to places like the Chinese Gardens, Otago Museum or the beach. The children are always learning new skills from these activities, particularly confidence, kindness, sharing and strong communication and social skills.
“This has become a passion for me and the joy and fulfilment that you get from helping these children is beyond any words. I urge anyone that has a great caring heart to take this opportunity on as the rewards are beyond belief and better than anything you receive in life.”
If providing temporary respite care is something you might be interested in, please contact us on 03 477 0801.