Te Vaerua Rehabilitation Service Inc Occupational therapist Kelly Pick looks over at the technique of caregivers in moving a patient from a wheelchair at the workshop held this week 21100116.
Te Vaerua Community Rehabilitation Services Inc held its first workshop to train people in basic caregiving skills to care for people with long term illnesses and disabilities, earlier this week. A caregiver who attended the course was moved by the stories that were expressed.
Vaerua Rehabilitation Service has been a recipient of the Social impact Fund (SIF)
programme funding targeting rehabilitation and therapy of persons with
disabilities; the service has provided training on rehabilitation in Rarotonga
and the Pa Enua.
The group was set
up to look after the welfare of people who are living with a disability.
“None of us is
going to escape this,” Te Vaerua board member Niki Rattle tells the participants of a
two-day workshop on basic caregiving skills held last week.
“When I’m advocating,
I say, this is not about them, none of us will escape this… there are children
with Autism and Down Syndrome who need assistance as well, so we need to open
ourselves up and accept the reality.”
Rattle was touched
by the wealth of knowledge amongst the caregivers who bravely shared their
experiences at the Te Vaerua workshop.
“It takes a
special person to become a good caregiver, patience compassion and empathy are
only some of the qualities that a caregiver should possess and caregivers
should not be too proud or too akama (shy) to ask for help,” she says, adding “and
people shouldn’t have to go through difficulties before they can access help.”
Te Vaerua receives
assistance through the New Zealand High Commission and the Social Impact Fund
provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to buy the resources.
Caregivers practice the technique of moving a patient on a bed. 21100117.
But Rattle says
the need is so great that what they can afford to buy is disappearing pretty
much straight away.
obviously is greater than the supply,” she says.
A caregiver, who had attended the course, was also moved by the stories that were
“It was really
emotional for me, and I really feel for the caregivers who are struggling,” shares
the caregiver who wished to remain anonymous.
She is a caregiver
for her partner who is bedridden and needs 24-hour care, “but, we are lucky and
we are blessed that we have several caregivers on a roster that help us”.
An organised woman,
she keeps a diary in which everything is written down – who is on duty,
medication, meals and anything else.
The caregivers do wipe
downs, change clothing or bedding etc. and give the patient a light massage.
She and the
caregivers had never done a caregivers course. “We all just learnt as we went
along on our own.”
The first time
they had to move the patient in and out a vehicle, they just had to figure it
out how for themselves.
“And it took ages,”
she says. “Until Te Vaerua came up and Kelly (Pick) showed us how to maneuver a
She values the
services of Te Vaerua who visit and demonstrate particular exercises.
Her partner does
regular exercise and has a good diet with no sugar, “and the good thing now is
you can buy sugar free products, but it’s not cheap”.
“We have to be
careful and gentle when moving him and we have purchased a ‘donut’ from the
CITC pharmacy to make him more comfortable and to help alleviate pressure.”
She recommends to
caregivers to really plan ahead for things that are needed such as gloves,
soap, powder, towels, sheets, hand wash etc.
is very important for you, the caregiver and the patient, and look around and
see where it’s cheaper to buy, and be mindful that products always run out on
everything you purchase and keep the receipts and do a summary at the end of
for caregivers in the country is expected to grow with the increase of
longevity in the older adult population, and caregivers are encouraged to
undergo regular checkups, eat well and take care of themselves.
She has been
diagnosed with arthritis, has asthma and a non-communicable disease (NCD), and
when she has her time off in the week, she takes time out elsewhere to rest.
“I’m blessed and
very lucky I have very good and caring friends who offer their homes to me to
get away to,” she says adding she feels for other caregivers who can’t do this
– have nowhere else to go to just rest peacefully with no distractions.
“When I go to a
quiet rest place, basically what I do is just sleep and watch movies.
“It’s good for me
to go when I need to, I’m very blessed. Whereas others don’t get the
opportunity to just take a break and I really feel for them, its very important
to have that support whether its from your family or your friends.
“I can see all the
struggles (of the caregivers) and I feel for those who are on their own and
don’t have that support.”
She also has to
take care of herself especially given she has some medical conditions of her
own to deal with. Her asthma is under control but when it gets cold, the
arthritis becomes painful and it can be a struggle to do the basic caregiving things.
“You’ve just got
to do it if you’re there on your own, so you get on with it.”
However she is
struggling with the NCD illness that the doctor has advised her is also being
brought on stress. Her friends are helping out with a meal plan.
Seeing her partner
immobile can be distressing for her at times.
and heart breaking to see, he was once such an outgoing and vivacious guy, it really
hurts me to see him bed ridden like that.
“There are moments
when I look at him and I just cry, and go outside and I weep and I scream… and
I think ‘oh God it is so sad’…”
Although he has no
mobility, his mind is still sharp, and together they talk through her emotions.
“It’s good we can talk.
And he is actually a good patient, he is still very alert and sometimes we sit
there and laugh and he loves watching CNN.
“He’s so used to
people handling him now, but at the start it was difficult for him and you can
says to be a good caregiver, one must have patience, empathy and be understanding
as well, and be straight forward.
“You have to have
compassion and empathy, be firm but kind and don’t be harsh, I always apologise
if I’m too harsh.”
Each week she likes
to treat him with a roast meal to offer something different to eat and does
ensure he has a good healthy diet.
“We are lucky we
are okay financially, but there are other people out there struggling and my
heart goes out to them.”
She also asks
families and the community who have the services of caregivers to, “be
considerate to your caregivers. They have to be looked out for too, please make
them feel welcome and appreciated - it’s about looking after people who look
In the future she
would like to go out and help people who need caregivers. “I feel for
caregivers who don’t have the help, so caregiving is something I would love to
continue to be involved in.”
getting her own health issues back on track.
With her heart of
gold and lot of love, and the support of good caring friends she’ll soldier on.
“I’m going to hang in there,” she says with a smile.
In launching the
first Cook Islands National Policy on Disability in 2003, former Minister of
Internal Affairs Vaevae Pare stated that “people with disabilities, up to
recent times, have been totally invisible in all areas and at all levels of the
development processes of this country. They are the most discriminated against
population group. It’s time we changed some of our values and understandings
with respect to those that may have some form of disability. Whether the
disability be psychological, physiological or whether it be a function of
accident or genetics, people with disabilities are people first, deserving the
same set of rights as every citizen of this country.”
The Cook Islands
Disability Inclusive Policy 2020 - 2025 pursued to provide direction and the
means of addressing aspiring outcomes through actions that would result in the
improvement of the quality of life of the person with disability and their
individuals for example the elderly, disabled persons, or people suffering from
chronic or mental disorders who have difficulty performing basic day-to-day
duties include assisting with personal care, administering medication, and
needs involve assisting a loved one in the management of their daily life and a
caregiver responsibilities can include: checking on their health, preparing a
care plan, assisting with basic needs, provide companionship, help with
housekeeping, monitoring medications and preparing meals.
The current Cook
Islands caregivers allowance is $100 per fortnight.