Nominations for the 2022 Continence Foundation Carer of the Year Award are now open.
The award will be presented at the 30th National Conference on Incontinence in Melbourne in May 2022. The recipient will receive a prize of $1000.
The replacement value of unpaid care in Australia is estimated at over $1 billion per week, with recent data revealing there are over 2.8 million at-home carers looking after the most vulnerable in our society, including approximately 540,000 who provide daily continence care.
"This annual award is to honour the unpaid continence carers who make such a difference to the quality of life for their loved ones," said Rowan Cockerell, chief executive of the Continence Foundation.
"If we want people to be cared for in their own homes longer, then carers need to be acknowledged for the vital role they perform. By nominating someone you know for the Continence Carer of the Year award, you are showing you value the extraordinary contribution they make," Mrs Cockerell said.
In 2021, 34 per cent of calls to the free National Continence Helpline (1800-330-066) were from carers requesting advice and information about treatment and management of incontinence, accessing local continence services, financial assistance, continence products, or resources such as brochures and leaflets.
Robert Sykes from Coffs Harbour, NSW, was the recipient of the award in 2020 in recognition of his dedicated and selfless care for his daughter, Olivia.
"I was lost for words," said Robert. "I don't consider myself any different to anybody else, just doing my job and looking after my family. My daughter is family," he said.
Robert's daughter, Olivia, was born with the rare WAGR syndrome, which can include complex health needs like global developmental delay, eye problems like cataracts and genitourinary inconsistencies.
Olivia is non-verbal, and Rob is always looking for signs and cues to better understand her needs. He noticed that Olivia was waking up unhappy some mornings. Trying some new things in the toileting routine ended up making a huge difference to her wellbeing and mood. "So now she has a dry night's sleep. And when she wakes up, she's much happier," Robert said.
Robert gave up a full-time career to become Olivia's main carer and there is no doubt his kind, patient and supportive nature make him not only a special Dad, but also an important advocate for Olivia.
Anyone can nominate an unpaid continence carer for the award. This includes the carer themselves, a family member or friend, a health care professional or the person who receives care.
Nominations close on March 31, 2022. For further information and details on how to nominate someone or yourself for the award www.continence.org.au/carer-award