Home Instead has named Sydney’s Rebecca Parsons the 2016 Australian CAREGiver of the Year. The award recognises her outstanding commitment to providing quality, compassionate care that enhances the lives of seniors and their families.

Rebecca understand the importance of caregiving, having grown up as the family carer for both her mother and grandmother from a young age. This gave her invaluable insight into what it is like to care for a loved one, how to manage ongoing, high-level needs and how to deal with the difficulties of palliative care.

Debbie Quirk, Director of Home Instead Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches, says, “Rebecca’s love of people comes from within. She is a genuine, caring, empathetic person who is able to see life from other people’s perspective. She has a generous spirit which results in her being a one-in-a-million CAREGiver. She enters her clients’ lives in a respectful and honourable manner and takes the time to get to know each client; their likes, dislikes, culture, sensitivities, history along with their current needs. Rebecca uses her skills and knowledge to instil in her clients a feeling of independence and control, encouraging them to practise retained skills.  She does this in a light-hearted, warm way which make each client feel they are the only person in the world. She does not know the word ‘no’ or ‘never’ but lives and breathes positive energy and reinforcement. She is an advocate for seniors’ rights and an energetic role model and ambassador for Home Instead in our community.”

Rebecca started working as a CAREGiver in June 2014, and has completed over 2,350 hours of service. Rebecca is honoured to be named CAREGiver of the Year. She says, “I am so humbled and honestly I’m blown away at being named National CAREGiver of the Year. It’s so wonderful to know that what I’m doing is making a difference in people’s lives. I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than what I’m doing and being a caregiver comes so naturally to me that, in a way, it feels strange to be rewarded for it. Working with the people I get to work with and giving them independence as they grow older is really all the reward I need.”

Due to Rebecca’s high level of skill, knowledge, experience and commitment to the needs of older people, she has been placed with clients who have very high needs. Her skill in caring for clients who are living with dementia is an asset to the team. She has a highly developed understanding of the issues facing clients and their families, including an awareness of the feeling of social isolation and/or depression following a diagnosis of dementia.

Hilda, 82, is one of Rebecca’s clients and she lives alone, with the closest of her children – Kim – located 1.5 hours away. Kim has a full-time job to support her family and one of her children suffers from autism. However, Kim visits her mother weekly to assist with cleaning, shopping and transport. Before Rebecca came on-board, Kim was suffering from carer’s stress. Hilda has type 2 diabetes, chronic lymphatic leukaemia, enlarged spleen, heart stents and leg ulcers. Home Instead provides care for Hilda twice daily, 7 days per week.

Kim says “Bec came into our lives 14 months ago after my mum became seriously ill. As I live and work far away, I could not see how I could provide the daily assistance that she required. We were very fortunate to be referred to Home Instead who sent Bec to be my mum’s personal carer. The stress of caring for my mum has been eased knowing that Bec is with her morning and night caring for her the way I would. Bec provides Hilda with the highest quality of care and we are so very blessed that she came into our lives. Hilda has become very fond of Bec and looks forward to her company each day,” says Kim.

Each year, each Home Instead local office awards four CAREGivers of the Quarter and from those, awards their local CAREGiver of the Year. Each office then nominates their CAREGiver of the Year for the National CAREGiver of the Year, which Rebecca has been awarded for 2016. A panel of industry professionals review the nominations to ultimately select the most exceptional CAREGiver in the country to receive the honour.