Could you open your heart and home to one more?

By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Tuesday November 21, 2023

We recently asked Doug and his whānau about their Caregiving experience. Doug explained that, at the time, they were a married couple with a young boy who was about kindy age. They saw the advertisement for carers being needed and, having no other significant commitments due to the age of their son, saw this as an opportunity to help people who needed a little bit of support and it seemed like it would work in well with their current lifestyle.

Can you tell us about your experience? How many years?

“We did respite care for approximately 15 years I believe. Some years were busier than others.

We did a lot of single-child respite initially but eventually, it became quite normal to have two or three kids stay with us at any one time. It just became normal for our own kids to share their rooms and lives with these kids.

Whether it was just playing at home or taking the kids out for different activities around Dunedin, they just blended into our lives. It's fortunate that at one stage we had a people-mover, but normally we had two cars, as we had up to six kids all together (three of which were our own), with us two parents, so it was a full-on experience most weekends.

When we also helped one of the kids get into rugby for the first time and seeing how much he enjoyed that opportunity was a cool highlight.

 We've had some really nice kids spend time with us and I know it has been a very rewarding experience for our own kids to share their lives with so many other children.”

What impact has this made on your life?

“Aside from seeing for ourselves how fortunate we are in our lives, it has been a great learning experience for our own kids to learn how to share everything they own and that you can get to know anybody from any background and be able to relate to them. Our kids got to develop some really good friendships over the years, and they had a lot of fun with the sport that got to be played in the backyard.”

What advice would you give to others who were considering becoming a Caregiver?

“At first, you don't have to overcommit yourself with multiple kids on more regular visits.

Start small if you want to, until you can really see the extent of the commitment involved and once you know it is right for you then you can increase kid numbers or the amount of visits.

Once you do have this opportunity though, it can be rewarding in many different ways. It's a new learning experience for yourself and your own children if you have them and it's a fantastic way to give back to our community and to help out some very deserving caregivers who just need a little help to give them a little bit of breathing space when they need it.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“After such a long time doing respite care, I'm grateful for the kids that visited our family home over the years and brought their own unique personalities to our home. They have taught our own kids some valuable lessons and hopefully we helped out those families to make their lives a little easier too. An experience I would recommend to anyone.”