Home care worker Daniel Van Gelder has literally gone the extra mile for an isolated 80-year-old client in rural New South Wales, repeatedly trekking through two kilometres of mud to deliver important supplies and services.
Retired farmer, Alex Perkins, has been cut off from the outside world since early November due to weeks of heavy rain and flooding.
With limited mobility due to a nasty fall several years ago, he has relied on at-home support to keep living on his 141-hectare cattle farm at Gungal in the Upper Hunter, a two-hour drive from Newcastle.
Older people living in regional or rural areas already struggle with accessible support services and it could have been easy for Mr Van Gelder to say it was not possible to reach Mr Perkins in the trying conditions.
However, after picking up groceries from nearby Muswellbrook, the HammondCare worker hit the road and he did not stop until he reached an inaccessible bogged track that stretched out for two kilometres.
Unable to drive to Mr Perkins’ door, Mr Van Gelder carried the essential supplies through the mud.
He has since trekked to the house on several occasions and Mr Perkins said he couldn’t praise the care worker enough.
“He always gives 110%,” said Mr Perkins.
“I rely on him for a fair bit. I can’t bend over. I can’t get out of my chair much these days.
“Daniel doesn’t complain about anything. He picks up my groceries, dog food, and medications and keeps me going.”
The last few years challenged the experienced farmer, who was fit as a fiddle until he slipped outside of a supermarket, breaking his leg and shattering his ankle.
Mr Perkins spent seven weeks in the hospital with steel bolts and a plate required to strengthen his leg and ankle.
Unfortunately, he cannot move around the farm like he used to, but home care services have helped him maintain a sense of normalcy and independence.
“Only a few years ago I was quite good with the cattle and everything like that, getting around the paddocks. That’s all changed now,” Mr Perkins said.
“Now I can tell you the things that are right about me quicker than the things that are not going so well.”
Mr Perkins’ closest family are located two hours away and his granddaughter, Kursty, said they were incredibly grateful for Mr Van Gelder’s ongoing help and commitment.
For Mr Van Gelder though, cleaning, washing or driving Mr Perkins to an appointment is all in a day’s work.
He said he would do anything to ensure the support is provided.
“It’s just something I didn’t think much about really. It just needed to be done or Alex wouldn’t get his shopping,” said Mr Van Gelder.
As a result of his hard work, Mr Van Gelder received a HammondCare Mission in Action Award and was officially thanked for his dedication.