09 May My Day At The Carer’s Course
My Day At The Carer’s Course
By Allison Rayner
Solaris Cancer Care is proud to regularly provide the Carer’s Course, a free one-day workshop open to all carers of seriously ill individuals. The course is held between five to seven times a year, and I was privileged to attend the course and share my story with you.
Developed by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals, the course focuses on the challenges and demands of being a carer, and provides participants with a wide range of information and practical strategies to increase their coping skills. The main goal is to improve the quality of life for both people in the caring relationship.
As an Oncology Nurse with 15 years experience in nursing and management and having attended numerous courses in the past, I was an enthusiastic observer. I entered a warm and welcoming environment and introductions commenced. There was a range of attendees – carer’s, therapists, a patient/carer and myself and I immediately felt a sense of kinship with everyone there. An attendee later stated that it was good to learn, meet others going through the same thing, and reflect on what she does as a carer.
Effective Communication was presented first and it was fascinating listening to how we communicate in everyday situations, let alone as a carer. We were asked to engage in an exercise and I audibly sighed. I am not a keen participant in group exercises, as they are usually run of the mill and awkward, but this activity proved me wrong. Even though we were laughing throughout and at the end, it was a powerful exercise that clearly highlighted communication barriers, body language, eye contact, tone, and gestures.
Managing Medications, Pain, Symptoms, and Fatigue were all fascinating topics and even though I have practised and preached similar messages throughout my nursing career, information can date quickly. I was grateful to learn about new techniques, strategies and the array of Apps that can be downloaded and utilised for all aspects of Cancer Care. The hand massage demonstration was especially comforting and offered an example of how to physically relax your loved one and everyone actively joined in.
One of the presenters had first-hand experience of receiving Chemotherapy and its side effects, and it was an asset to have him there to discuss Nutrition and Self Care. He told us a story about when he was having his treatment and was struggling with no appetite and had a constant metallic taste in his mouth. Despite his healthy eating and education about ‘good nutrition’ he suddenly craved KFC, which he cheerfully consumed that day. Even though his body was sore the next morning, he told us that the benefit to his mental health and happiness was worth it. His personal statement and advice affected me more than anything else had that day, and it will stay in my mind always.
The financial aspect was very interesting; as I knew nothing about the current benefits and help that, you can receive as a carer. Even information about Wills and Carers WA was new to me and I am able to use that information when questions arise in the centre.
The day was peppered with laughter and there were constant interaction and questions from the attendees. People offered their experiences and ideas, and the presenters were a cohesive team, supportive, friendly and organised. Beverages, fruit and sandwiches kept us all satisfied throughout the day, and I was grateful for the mini meditation which allowed us all to relax and personally reflect. I have also been converted to Zen Breathing, which I firmly believe will benefit all who use it, especially when finding it hard to sleep.
I would thoroughly recommend anyone who is providing support and care to a loved one, to attend this course.
The Carer’s Course was a heartwarming, educational and an overall inspirational day. I have come away with more knowledge and even more admiration for the patients and their carers involved in the cancer journey.