Kamila's story as a carer for a client with SCI
“I am actually very lucky because my client and I are friends now and that is the biggest reward for me. I really didn’t expect it, I thought it would just be a normal job—a routine—but it is fun. “
Kamila is a carer for people with spinal cord injuries. She came to Australia with her boyfriend with high hopes and expectations for a country with a “strong economy and enjoyable climate”.
But their transition to life in Australia wasn’t easy and, after six months without a job and with no money left, they were getting ready to pack their things to leave.
“And suddenly I got this job and it was just like a blessing. I found an advertisement in a magazine, applied for the job and then had a trial on the following weekend. My client was happy and I could start working with him immediately.”
It is now almost two years since Kamila began working as a carer and she is still very enthusiastic about the job. Despite a few difficult moments when she was juggling work and study at the same time, Kamila has never lost her motivation to work as a carer.
“In this kind of job somebody really needs your help and even if you feel tired after a while, it is very rewarding to know that you are helping. My client has also became one of my best friends in Australia and I really look forward to seeing him.”
Before coming to Sydney, Kamila was working in the Czech Republic as a primary school teacher and she is also experienced in helping children with special needs. But, as she explains, those were different challenges and you cannot compare those roles to working with people with spinal cord injuries.
“I arrive at my client’s house around 9 am, wake him up and help him to get out of bed. Then we move to the bathroom where I assist with my client’s bowel care which usually takes around half an hour. After that I help him to take a shower and then very gently dry his skin and apply cream before helping him to get dressed. I also do some laundry or general cleaning, make coffee and sandwiches, just simple things.
It usually takes Kamila between two and three hours to help her client with these tasks and during that time Kamila never forgets that there is another person involved, with individual needs and problems. She also knows that you cannot carry out the job properly without communicating with your client.
“From the moment you start working as a personal carer, you become a part of your client’s life. The routines are very intimate and if you don’t have a good relationship then neither you or client will feel comfortable.”
Being a personal carer, Kamila makes a difference to someone’s life every day, but she also gets a lot out of it herself. She calls her client “the best English teacher in the world” as he patiently helps her to improve her language skills. Her perspective on people with disabilities has also changed radically.
“Even though I'm experienced in caring for people’s needs, I was very surprised by how many details of a person with a disability’s daily life I forgot to consider. I have learned a lot already but I'm still learning.”
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