Kenny Davis, 14, has been caring for his mother Shelly and older brother RJ for more than two years. Shelly has arthritis, and mobility issues due to a spinal injury. RJ experiences dizziness and vertigo due to a viral meningitis diagnosis in early 2020. Kenny’s responsibilities include helping to prepare meals, assisting Shelly and RJ with their medication, and providing bathroom care for RJ.
Caring for Shelly and RJ has strengthened Kenny’s bond with them. “It’s definitely brought us closer as a family,” Shelly says.
During 2021, RJ was unwell and Kenny did a lot of his schoolwork from home so he could help care for his brother. “If he was having a really bad day, he’d get really strong headaches,” Kenny says. “I’d stay there and be as quiet as I could while talking to him.”
Caring for Shelly and RJ has occasionally meant Kenny is not able to go to school, or see his friends. “He is very committed to his caring role,” says Shelly. “I’m very proud of the young man he is, and the man he is becoming.”
Kenny first realised he was a carer after his high school chaplain visited their house and then put the family in touch with a Carer Gateway service provider. During the intake interview, Kenny learned he was doing more than just helping the people he loves. “Carer Gateway has helped me understand what my role is in my family and to plan ahead for any changes that might happen in the future when I’m older,” he shares.
Shelly and Kenny like to read the stories of other carers on the Carer Gateway website. “Reading these stories and exploring the website helped me accept that we are not alone,” says Shelly. “It’s opened our eyes to what services are available.”
Through Carer Gateway, Kenny attended a leadership camp with other young carers in 2022, and this too gave him reassurance and perspective. “I’m not so different,” he says. “I may care for two people in my family but I do the same work [as other young carers] and I have similar aspirations.”
Did you know?
- There are more than 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia. That’s one in nine people!
- Two thirds of carers spend up to three hours a day providing care and support.
- Just over half of all carers are primary carers. That means they’re the only person looking after the person they care for.
Are you a carer?
A carer looks after someone who lives with disability, has a medical or mental health condition, or is frail due to age. Every caring situation is different, and a carer can be young or old. A carer might look after someone 24 hours a day and help with daily activities, or they might look after someone who only needs help some of the time.
If this sounds like you, you might be an unpaid carer.
It is important to have support when you are caring for someone. Carer Gateway was designed by carers for carers. They provide a range of free services and support to give carers the help they need. For more information, visit carergateway.gov.au any time or call 1800 422 737 between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday.