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Carer balances roles at work and home

Flexible work helps Gai Stackpool care for patients and her parents.

SydneyConnect Video: National Carers Week 2021

Gai Stackpool balances two caring responsibilities - supporting her patients and her elderly parents.

As the Deputy Manager of Sydney Local Health District's Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, Gai educates and supports culturally and linguistically diverse community members to improve their health and wellbeing.

And, for the past five years she's also looked after her elderly parents, particularly during her father's move to aged care, an adjustment made more challenging because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"A lot of it involves emotional support for both my father and my mother, as well as providing daily practical support around things like housework, shopping, cooking, gardening, transport. It does vary day to day, attending medical appointments, liaising with health care professionals," Gai said.

One in eight of the District's staff members balance their carer responsibilities with work.

This week is National Carers Week which is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions carers make to the community.

The District's Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub, Barbara Luisi, is Gai's manager and she recognises the challenges posed by balancing work and carer responsibilities.

"The role carers take on is often incredibly unrecognised. They do an amazing job. After incredibly difficult days sometimes, they still come to work and perform at their best and be incredibly valuable team members," Barbara said.

Flexibility is key.

"It's important to recognise that work is one of the many things that we have in our lives. If people have caring responsibilities, maybe for a parent, a child or even a pet. There needs to be flexibility, openness and communication from everyone," she said.

The District's support for carers in the workplace has been recognised with accreditation as a level-two carer-friendly organisation.

Part of that accreditation is due to the District Workforce Flexible Working Guidelines, designed to facilitate conversations so staff can balance work with their personal commitments.

The District's Chief Executive, Dr Teresa Anderson said helping staff balance their roles is part of the commitment to supporting staff while they care for our patients and their families.

"Our staff show they care in so many ways. I'm so proud of their flexibility and willingness to find ways to meet everyone's needs. Advocating for our own needs, those of our families and our patients is an essential part of supporting mental health.

"Sometimes an adjustment may be small, but can make a big difference. The most important part is that we all come together to identify what will work for everyone." Dr Anderson said.

For more information about the Sydney Local Health District Carers Program, visit www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/carers