Carer-Friendly Business Award State Winners 2017

Now in their 14th year, Carers Queensland’s Carer-Friendly Business Awards continue to go from strength to strength. The Awards recognise businesses, employees and employers that show a genuine understanding of the needs of carers, and go that extra mile to support them. 

In 2017, we received a record number of nominations for the Carer-Friendly Business Awards, which shows that more and more Queensland businesses are recognising the value and importance of supporting our state’s carers.

We are pleased to announce the 2017 Carer-Friendly Business Awards winners!

Great Employer: Target Country, Roma

One in ten Queenslanders is currently a carer and many of these combine paid work with their caring role. Working carers need an employer who demonstrates an understanding of a carer’s situation and supports their caring commitments outside of work with alternative work arrangements and established policies or practices in place to support staff who balance work and the caring role.

This year’s winner of the Great Employer Award was nominated by Grant Baker whose 15-year-old son Cameron has autism. Cameron’s dream is to work in his favourite store in the world: Target in Roma.

Grant tells us that the manager of their local Target Country, Jamie Blackman, always goes out of his way to make Cameron feel welcome in the store. Recently, Jamie offered Cameron work experience as part of the Year 10 school program and Cameron’s dream became a reality. He then extended this to ongoing after-school work experience.

Grant says this gesture meant the world to Cameron. “By working, he feels worthwhile and included in the community; something money can’t buy.”

As a carer, Grant also benefits. He says, “Knowing there are people out in the community and in business who are part of my son’s life gives me reassurance and confidence that he will be okay in the future. That old saying happy wife, happy life – well for me as a carer – happy son means a happier home, a healthier home and a much better quality of life.”

Jamie was surprised to receive the nomination for the Carer-Friendly Business Award, saying that autism should not be a barrier to employment. “To me, it’s just putting on another employee. No one’s perfect, we all have downfalls. As a manager, you understand that.”

He says, “Cam comes in every Monday that he is up to it. He is fun to have around and such a great worker; he notices things that others don’t and has a real eye for detail. The rest of the staff have to lift their game when Cam’s on their section.”

Great Employee: Naomi Kiehne, Mecure Hotel, Townsville

The Great Employee Award is for employees of a company or service provider that goes the extra mile in helping carers.

The 2017 winner was nominated by June Wilkinson who is a long-term carer who has cared for multiple family members. June attended a Carers Queensland retreat funded by Carers Australia at the Mecure Hotel in Townsville, and she says one staff member there really stood out.

June says, “Naomi Kiehne went above and beyond to make all 53 of us feel welcome, special and valued in the community; nothing was too much trouble. Naomi makes us realise how valued we carers are and how important carers are to her business and the whole community.”

Naomi says that after hosting events for Carers Queensland for three years she does make an extra effort as her understanding for carers grows.

“When carers come to stay with us, they’re not just here for a good time, they are here to unwind. Sometimes we take meals to their rooms because they don’t feel well or are mentally drained. We try to cater for everybody and make sure they are as comfortable as possible, but carers definitely need a bit of extra love; they have such a hard job,” says Naomi.

Great Service Provider: Hummingbird House, Brisbane

The Great Service Provider category acknowledges registered service providers and not-for-profit organisations that go ‘above and beyond’ in their services for carers.

The winner of this year’s award is Hummingbird House, Queensland’s only children’s hospice. Hummingbird House provides short-break stays, family wellbeing services, creative therapies and care at the end of life for children with life-limiting conditions, and their families.

Hummingbird House was nominated by Heidi Holm, whose daughter Ivy was born on May 2 this year. Ivy had Edwards Syndrome and passed away the following day. Hummingbird House invited Heidi and her family, including her four-year-old autistic son for whom she is a carer, to the hospice to say their final goodbyes to Ivy.

In her nomination, Heidi described how Hummingbird House staff looked after her children so she could bathe Ivy for the first and last time, took foot and hand prints and organised a special ceremony for Ivy, all while taking care of Heidi’s post-natal needs.

Heidi told us, “When your child has just died you really need a shoulder to cry on, you need a lot of love and support, and this is exactly what we got from Hummingbird House. Staff members Kelly and Elham went not just the extra mile, but many extra miles to make sure we have the best and most special memories of Ivy possible. They were the family and the warm hug we needed in our time of need.”

Great Service: Rainforest Beach Studio

Adrienne Penny runs Rainforest Beach Studio at Sunshine Beach and offers the beautiful room to unpaid family and community carers for free via Carers Queensland.

Matthew Gould is one carer who has enjoyed Adrienne’s hospitality and he nominated her for this award. Matthew says, “I felt acknowledged and supported by taking up this offer, and having a few nights at Rainforest Beach Studio was so refreshing and relaxing. It uplifted me immensely. It was a wonderful gift, much appreciated.”

Matthew is just one of many that Adrienne has been supporting in a very unassuming manner over the past two years. This selfless AirBNB owner has made her studio apartment available to Carers Queensland on a regular basis for carers on low income in desperate need of respite.

Adrienne says the dozen or so carers she has supported have opened her eyes to the world of a carer. “I am in total awe of the resilience, unconditional love, enduring support and selflessness shown to others in the role as carer, on a daily basis. From what I’ve seen and heard, most carers have had to give up work paying for some time out for themselves is not a viable option. They are also used to always putting others before themselves, so that their own needs come way down the priority list. Simply put, they are used to giving and not receiving.

“For me offering a few days respite to carers is an easy way to contribute to the community or give back. What I receive in return is immeasurable, learning I have in some way helped to make another person’s life a little better. It may only be for a short time, but I’m told has some continuing benefit. It’s made a difference to them.”

The awards were presented at Carers Queensland’s National Carers Week Gala launch, attended by more than 200 carers and corporate representatives.

Carers Queensland gratefully appreciates the funding support from the Queensland Government 
to assist with activities during National Carers Week 2017.