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First Time Experience – Caring for a Loved One with Special Needs


Caregiving can be both incredibly rewarding and burdensome at the same time. For most first-timers, the impact of having to offer an extra layer of support to a loved one with special needs is intimidating and can often leave them wondering where and how to begin. This feeling doesn’t change whether the need for care happened gradually because of declining health or it came about suddenly due to an accident or sudden illness. Your new role as a caregiver can be further complicated when your loved one becomes hesitant to accept any help. Be that as it may, there are still a few things you can do to make your experience go smoothly; as discussed in the next section.


Tips for First Time Caregivers under the NDIS

Ask for Support

Many caregivers experience burnout as a result of their new role. It has been said a lot but asking for help is not a sign of weakness or giving up. On the contrary, it can be interpreted as a sign of strength because you want the best for your loved one. Sharing the burden with someone else frees up some time for you; which means that you will be less stressed out and thus offer better care. Talk to other close family members and friends about this; as well as local caregiving support programs.


Research and Educate Yourself

Lack of knowledge about a loved one’s disability is one of the main causes of unintentional abuse and neglect. If you are new to caregiving, one of the first things you should do is to research widely and educate yourself on the impairment or condition of your loved one. Familiarise yourself with care options available, medications, treatment options, procedures and the general state of mind of people with that specific disability.


Self-Care Is Important

As much as you are spending lots of your time providing care to a loved one, it is imperative to also create time for yourself. You should not feel guilty about doing this. Take some time off to do the things you like, socialise, get enough sleep and good nutrition; as these will not only rejuvenate you but also keep you in high spirits and consequently offer better care for your loved one.


Notify Your Employer

Becoming a caregiver means that a lot of the time, your work may be impacted. It is only fair that you notify your employer or supervisor of your new found role. Discuss what options are available to you and how you can come up with a flexible plan that benefits everyone. Some employers even offer employee assistance programs that you may want to look into.


If you and your loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, you may want to restructure your NDIS plan and consider additional supports.

(Cover Photo by: Nathan Anderson)
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