Carers are an integral part of the Sanctuary team and are in constant liaison with the Clinical Director and the Therapeutic Team. We are the first person to greet the clients in the morning and the last person to wish them pleasant dreams. We stay close to our clients at all times whilst remaining sensitive to their need for quiet time and private moments. Each client is usually assigned three or more carers during their stay.
Carers at the Sanctuary Byron Bay are non-judgmental and empathic companions with a wide range of life experience and life skills. The one thing that we all have in common is a deep understanding of the healing and recovery process. We understand the detoxification process and the challenges that inevitably arise. While the program fully supports each individual client to go where they need to go, recognising each client is unique, we nevertheless work within specific boundaries to ensure that even as we function as companions with whom clients, in absolute confidentiality, share a lot of their in-depth journeys, our focus remains on their needs and not our own.
Carers are carefully matched with clients based on a wide range of factors including: culture; age; gender; particular addictions or issues; life-experience; and most importantly the level of care required. For example, for the first week of intensive withdrawal, clients are assigned only qualified registered nurses as Carers.
We are not therapists yet we often become sounding boards as the clients unravel and try to make sense of their addictions and or negative behavioural patterns. We are great listeners and are trained to identify key issues that our therapists may find useful in understanding the overall clinical picture.
As clients have limited access to their normal social networks, a Carer can become someone to share a cup of tea with, a light chit-chat, a good laugh and a joke, what’s happening in the world, perhaps a tear, a rising realisation or ‘ah-ha’ moment but mostly we are there as professional support workers, 24 hours a day, cultivating a sense of safety, trust and nurturing.
The role of a Carer can have its challenges – as with most caring professions it’s not always easy to watch people in pain and in self-harming patterns. Yet the rewards outweigh the challenges. New clients cannot imagine the life changing journey that they are about to embark upon – but through repeated experience, we as carers can – and in those crucial early days of recovery, we can hold the hope for our clients even when they cannot. So on first meeting a client I imagine them at the end of the program. I see them in 4 to 6 weeks time and I have a little smile. It’s my favourite part of the job, sharing their journey and being witness to what can only be described as a courageous and miraculous transformation. To be a part of a team that facilitates the process of a client literally regaining and reclaiming their life back is satisfying beyond compare. In a nutshell … that is why I Care.
Paul Pritchard – Carer at the Sanctuary Byron Bay