Lumino Day 2019 will see 40 practices up and down New Zealand open their doors and give dental treatment to hundreds of New Zealanders for free. For Lumino Nelson Prosthodontics, the day will be extra meaningful for the staff involved.
Lumino Day 2019 will see 40 practices up and down New Zealand open their doors and give dental treatment to hundreds of New Zealanders for free. For a third year running, we are treating members of Carers NZ – the national body that provides information, advice, learning and support to unpaid family carers.
This year, for the first time, the team at Lumino Nelson Prosthodontics are taking part. For Dr Andrew Cautley and his wife Lisette – who also happens to be the Practice Manager – Lumino Day will have an extra special meaning.
The husband and wife team and the staff at Nelson Prosthodontics are new to the Lumino network and say they are very much looking forward to a day where they can care for the people who spend most of their time, caring for others. You see, Andrew and Lisette are also carers themselves, to the eldest of their three children, Michael.
Michael is now 26 and was born with a genetic syndrome.
“The characteristics of the syndrome means he exhibits physical difficulties, is intellectually challenged and he has autistic tendencies. His speech is limited, as are his physical skills and he requires full time care,” says Lisette.
“However, his sisters say he is the happiest person on earth. He’s a wonderful person, and we’re really proud of him,” she adds.
Being a mother to Michael, Lisette will have a deeper understanding for what it means for a carer, to walk through the practice doors on Lumino Day.
“Being a carer is a 24/7 voluntary job, it’s massive. How someone ends up in this role of course varies widely – some are spouses, parents, some siblings. For some it’s cultural or family reasons. And what a carer does is just as diverse, from a fully house-bound family member to those who have really challenging behaviour when out and about. Everyone has a unique story,” she says.
However, Lisette says there are a few key threads that will be the same for all patients as they walk through the door.
“Firstly, just to get to an appointment on time takes a huge amount of organisation. Someone else will be stepping into the role at home, and they will have had to be asked for help (not easy!). On the day, it’s much more than just getting out the door – the person they care for will have a routine, out of bed, washed, fed, sorted the meds for the day, often at a much slower pace that we do for ourselves. All this before handing over to the person who has agreed to come in, and then often there’s a handover list,” she says.
As well as this, carers are often on a time strict limit, so choosing to come has been a big decision, she adds.
Lisette says the patient will also be used to coming to appointments as a support person, not the one sitting in the chair.
“Constantly advocating for someone else’s needs is different than looking after your own, and often life feels like a struggle. There’s not a lot of energy left for your own care. They may feel a little embarrassed about that, but it’s an opportunity to be reminded about that oxygen mask analogy in airline safety videos – we care best when we manage our own needs too,” she adds.
Lisette acknowledges that for a carer, coming into a situation like Lumino Day, where they are the focus may even be a bit nerve-wracking.
“They may be uncomfortable about the spotlight, they may be overwhelmed at the simple kindness of the day, and so be ready for a few tears,” she says.
An extension of love and support
Lisette says staff at Lumino Nelson Prosthodontics are very much looking forward to Lumino Day because the entire team, she says, understand the value in a day like this and that Lumino Day is just a small way of being able to care for the community they are live and work in.
“Our staff are so much part of Michael’s support team, and in the past have given up their time to look after him on our behalf,” she says.
“They see the issues we face and have embraced it all, we have an exceptionally compassionate team. This day is an extension of that love and support that they all have,” she adds.
Lisette says she is so glad an organisation like Carers NZ exists.
“While there are many good causes out there, caring for a family member is one of those things that flies under the radar,” she says.
“It’s a job that’s invisible, relentless, and often a bit of a fight. The physicality of caregiving, mental and emotional aspects are huge. The social isolation can be a barrier to overcome every day, dealing with agencies, healthcare professionals; constantly advocating. Most people have no idea what a carer can jam into a day.”
“Carers all do the role without attention, in the background and for love, and it’s so great that Lumino have chosen an organisation which acknowledges that, and to give some love back,’’ she adds.
On Saturday May 11th 2019, 40 Lumino The Dentists practices from Kerikeri to Gore will be treating around 550 patients for free. This year, the sixth annual ‘Give Back’ day, we will mark $1 million worth of free dental care given to thousands of New Zealanders since the event’s inception in 2013.