Hello, my name is Shelly Spalding.
I founded Charlie’s Gift because the wellbeing of our aged as they move toward the last years of their life is important to me.
I have a background in occupational therapy and over 10 years’ experience working in community-aged care. I am also an End of Life Doula. A midwife. if you like. assisting those at the end of life.
My sole purpose in my professional roles and as founder of Charlie’s Gift, is to assist our aged community to overcome difficulties/hardship and retain their full capacity of independence and wellbeing for as long as possible and support them when faced with challenges such as transitioning to residential care and through the palliative stages of their life. Many of our aged wish to remain living at home close to the community they know and love. However, it is only with the support of many in their community, will they be able to do so.
Our aged, whom unable to remain living in place (home), also rely on community support and connection for their ongoing wellbeing right until their last breath.
In my work, I have had the privilege to meet many of our aged and their families. I have also felt the heartbreak of seeing many experience hardship and suffering because because they either did not know what information or services/supports were available to them or because they did not have adequate supports or services to pass away at home.
There is no vision more sad that seeing our frail pass in a hospital ward or in ICU alone, fearful often disorientated and in distress. This is not a criticism of our hospital staff, only an observation that more than our hospital staff is needed at such times.
My father, Charlie passed away in 2016 from Lung Cancer. He and my mother lived in a small regional town. Charlie and mum were lucky. They not only had the support of four adult children, who were in the position to travel long distances and help but also the support of their whole community.
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to be with Dad, day and night, for the last weeks of his life. I could see that the hospital could not provide the love and support he needed without my help, so I literally moved into his ward. Although I miss Charlie, my grief was less painful because I knew he had all he needed to experience peace and contentment at his end of life.
It was at this this moment that I felt it unfair that all our aged could not experience the support and love they need to find peace, contentment and wellbeing. Not everyone has family or family that live close or family than can afford to leave work and become a carer.
It was also at this moment I realised it was not one person’s, family member or organisations responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of our aged. It was the responsibility of the whole community; a village effort if you like.
I not only believe but I know! that it takes all within a community to make a positive difference to the wellbeing of those within it. It does indeed take a Village and Charlie’s Gift is part of this village.