Westmead nurse declares ‘I’m a carer and a mum’

Westmead Hospital Redbank House Acute Adolescent Unit nursing unit manager Julia Norcott is a carer and a mum to her 18 year-old son, Brendan Norcott.

Being a carer for a friend or loved one is a rewarding and challenging role but it can be even more demanding when you balance this responsibility with work commitments.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is celebrating the launch of its new carer survey by featuring our staff who are both carers and mums.

The Pulse spoke with two Westmead Hospital nurses who shared their stories:

Westmead Hospital’s Redbank House Acute Adolescent Unit nursing unit manager Julia Norcott has worked in health since 1977 and is the primary carer for her 18 year old son, Brendan Norcott.

Brendan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was 10.

“At first I didn’t think of myself as a carer … I’m just a mum until I was asked if I had applied for the carer allowance and I said why?” she said.

Ms Norcott is grateful for the knowledge and support working in health has given her.

“It makes me realise how hard it is to navigate the system for carers who don’t work in health and then there is Centrelink and the NDIS.

“I have all of the resources available to me here and I still find it difficult.”

Westmead Hospital’s Aged Care, Dementia and Delirium clinical nurse consultant Clare Kendrick cared for her grandparents since she was 22.

“Nurses seem to fall into carer roles because it is expected of them or in their nature,” Ms Kendrick said.

“No-one asked me to take on the role I just did because I liked helping them and they became reliant on me.

Clare’s caring role involved weekly trips to the central coast to visit her grandparents to take them shopping and attend medical appointments while she was juggle work at Westmead Hospital.

“As a carer you experience a lot of guilt because you can’t see them every day,” she said.

“You don’t go on holidays because you get anxiety about not being close by and carers often feel it’s their responsibility even when other people offer to help.”

After a few serious falls Clare’s Nan was relocated to an aged care facility close to Westmead and this allowed Clare to make regular visits to take her coffee.

“She loved her coffee … her cognitive impairment meant she’s a different Nan, psychologically it’s challenging but I felt privileged to do this for my grandparents,” she said.

WSLHD patient and carer experience manager Wendy Cain said carers are an integral part of our health system who provide help and support in the daily activities of the person being cared for including showering, lifting, dressing, feeding and providing transport to attend appointments.

“WSLHD acknowledges and thanks the 2.7 million Australians who identify as carers and we invite you to help us understand how to support carers better by participating in our first online carer experience survey,” Ms Cain said.

To complete the survey, visit:

Westmead – http://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Westmead-Hospital/Patient—Visitor-Information

Auburn – http://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Auburn-Hospital/Patient-and-Visitor-Information/Patient-and-Visitor-Information

Blacktown Mt Druitt – http://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Blacktown-Mount-Druitt-Hospital/Patient-and-Visitor-Information/Patient-and-Visitor-Information

For more information on WSLHD Carer Program, visit: http://wslhdintranet.wsahs.nsw.gov.au/Carer-Program/Carer-Program

Support for carers is also available at the Carers NSW website – https://www.carersnsw.org.au/ and the NDIS website – https://www.ndis.gov.au/families-carers.