Australia has 2.65 million unpaid carers – people who provide care and support to a family member or friend with disability, a medical condition, mental illness, or someone who is frail due to age. These unsung heroes can be found in communities including Parkes, NSW.
Every day across our community a vast number of people are quietly going above and beyond for their loved ones. One of these people is 69 year old Parkes resident Jenelle Tomlinson, who has been the primary carer for her husband David, since 2013. In recent years the couple also welcomed Jennelle’s mother Pam and their grandson Markus into their home.
Jennelle’s life changed suddenly in 2013 when her husband David fell from a grain silo at work – an accident he wasn’t expected to survive.
In the first few years after the accident, Jennelle provided daily care for David and organised medical care and appointments while working full-time. David has since recovered, but the accident left him with a brain injury that sometimes affects his speech. He also lives with physical limitations.
In January 2020 Jennelle’s mother Pam, now 90, moved into their home. In order to care for both her husband and mother, Jennelle had left her job in 2021.
Jennelle manages the grocery shopping, washing, cleaning, and general household tasks. She also takes Pam to appointments and tries to schedule manageable, wheelchair-friendly activities outside of the house to help her mum stay social.
“Sometimes asking for help is just another thing on my to-do list” said Janelle.
Providing care at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic was a lonely time for Jennelle. Her siblings couldn’t provide the support they had promised for their mum, and Jennelle struggled with the confinement and isolation of her situation. Having Markus, 15, come to live with his grandparents part-time has brought joy to the household.
In early 2023, accessing respite care for her mum allowed Jennelle to take a well-earned break, thanks to Carer Gateway.