‘I am her arms, her voice’: Greystanes mother shares story during National Carer’s Week

Greystanes mother and carer Lorraine Russell with her daughter Sarah-Jane Russell.

Lorraine Russell has shared the touching story of her role as a carer for her daughter Sarah-Jane as part of National Carers Week 2017 (15-21 October).

Lorraine, from Greystanes, has cared for Sarah-Jane, now 21, since birth.

Sarah-Jane was born with semilobar holoprosencephaly and Dandy-Walker malformation – rare conditions that affect the brain – and she depends on her mum to take care of her daily needs.

Initially, Lorraine was told her daughter would not survive past a few days but Sarah-Jane has defied the odds and is now the only known person with her condition to have lived into adulthood.

“I am so proud of Sarah-Jane – everything the doctors said she wouldn’t do, she’s done,” Lorraine said.

National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the diversity of carers and their caring roles.

The theme for National Carers Week 2017 is Carers Count, focusing on the number of carers in Australia, the hours of care they provide and the value of that unpaid care.

Lorraine said she viewed being a carer as a rewarding and positive experience.

“I didn’t expect to feel that way but I’ve gained so much from my daughter,” she said.

“I really see caring as both giving and receiving – Sarah is a person, but I am her arms and her voice.”

Carers across Australia provide 36 million hours of care each week to family members or friends who have a disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who are frail.

Western Sydney Local Health District patient and carer experience manager Wendy Cain said National Carers Week was a good opportunity to pay homage to these often unsung heroes.

“Our carers are vital; we count on them and we really want to celebrate the outstanding contribution they make, often behind the scenes,” she said.

“Anyone at any time can become a carer; National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the roles carers play each and every day.”

Let carers know they count by saying thank you at www.carersweek.com.au or via social media, using #carerscount and #carers2017.

Westmead Hospital will host a carer’s week stall at the main entrance on Tuesday, October 17 from 10am – 2pm.

A new Carers Survey is also being launched at Westmead Hospital during Carer’s Week.

Carers are invited to visit http://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Westmead-Hospital/Patient—Visitor-Information to give feedback on their experience as a carer for a patient at Westmead Hospital.

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