When 76-year-old Dorothy Farrent first visited the Kemira Respite Centre at IRT William Beach Gardens in Kanahooka she felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
As sole full-time carer to her daughter, Amanda, who has Huntington’s disease, Dorothy knew she needed to take time for herself but didn’t want Amanda to be in a place that felt like a nursing home or hospital.
“I wanted somewhere that would not only offer a break for me but be a holiday for Amanda as well,” Dorothy said. “When we saw Kemira for the first time we both said, ‘this is impressive’.
“It was bright and fresh and the room was like a lovely hotel room, with its own private bathroom.
“We also liked the communal area which has a comfortable lounge and a big TV. That’s important to Amanda because she is a bit of a TV fanatic.”
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Dorothy first became a carer when her husband started showing symptoms of Huntington’s disease at only 40 years old.
After losing her husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law to the illness, both of Dorothy’s children, Lissa and Amanda, discovered they too had the Huntington’s gene.
With Lissa still managing to live independently, Dorothy lives with Amanda who needs more and more care from her mother as her condition deteriorates.
“Over the eight years since I moved down here from Sydney, Amanda has slowly declined,” Dorothy said. “She is now in a wheelchair, her fingers no longer grip very well, she struggles with eating and I can’t really leave her alone at all which makes it very tough.”
Dorothy said that knowing a support worker is with Amanda day and night when she is at Kemira means that she can have a mental and physical break from caring.
“Kemira is my sanity – I don’t contact or even think about Amanda while she is there - because I know she is happy and being properly cared for,” Dorothy said. “It is such a relief and means I don’t feel any guilt about taking some time for myself.”
She is happy and being properly cared for.Dorothy, mother and carer
While Amanda has been at Kemira, Dorothy has mainly rested at home, enjoying simple pleasures like sitting in her beautiful garden, sleeping-in and reading.
During Amanda’s next Kemira stay though, Dorothy plans to get out of the house and catch up with two of her closest friends.
“Being a sole carer is isolating, sometimes my only connection to other people is on the phone, so it would be so lovely to meet up with my old friends and spend time with them face-to-face. Kemira makes this possible.”