In late June my husband and I attended IOE’s Carers Retreat weekend at the RACV resort in Inverloch.

What a lovely break – definitely much needed!

This was IOE’s second Carers weekend, there was such positive and valuable feedback from the 2018 weekend that it was decided to do it again this year.

When we arrived late Friday afternoon there was already a large group sitting together in the bar/lounge area toasting their feet by the fire. The group was a real mix of IOE old regulars plus a number of carers who had met on the previous carer weekend or on family camp, as well as a couple of brand newies. It was a lovely welcoming way to start the weekend and get acquainted.

CEO Fred started off the weekend’s activities with a walk along the beach to a cave and back on the Saturday morning. Typical of Fred’s famous walks it went for much longer than planned so we missed the morning boxing sessions. Still the walk was well worth it, as it was a beautiful sunny morning and the beach was so peaceful – plus we had some exercise and the chance to walk off breakfast.

As many carers don’t really take good care of their health, the weekend aimed to offer lots of opportunities to get active in addition to socialising. In the afternoon there was yoga followed by outdoor games. As we were throwing beanbags, rolling boules and playing giant Connect 4 we could see the others sitting by that cosy lounge fire! Not to be deterred from playing tennis, Fred finally managed to rustle up enough people for a set of doubles. They warmed up on the court while a few of us headed to the indoor spa and sauna for a bit of pre-dinner luxury and relaxation.

Sitting around the tables at dinner was another chance to get to know others over a surprisingly good meal. Post-dinner entertainment was again theatre sports facilitated by The Misfit Project – they had rave reviews from the previous carers weekend. We rose to the challenges, did silly things, pushed our boundaries and tried to work collaboratively to come up with skit ideas. Lots of laughs. Looking around the room there seemed to be some pretty tired looking people. All that activity and the rare chance for many to have a night to themselves meant most headed back to their rooms for a sleep.

It would have been really good if we could have stayed one more day. My husband remarked that there was noticeable group camaraderie at breakfast on Sunday, which would have been good to build on throughout the day. Unfortunately we had to vacate rooms at 10am. Personally, we took advantage of every bit of our time away together and had a lovely day beach walking, watching the waves and sightseeing before heading back to reality.

The weekend gave so many carers the chance, not only to have a break and have fun, but to make connections and with others who understand their situation and are supportive.

Thanks IOE for believing families and carers matter and looking after us so well.

Sandra Leehy