Often when someone describes themselves as a carer we assume it is something that has always been part of their life, but becoming a short-term carer of my husband landed in my lap with little to no warning.

Perched atop a two-storey ladder to make the final paint brush stroke of a long renovation ended in a devastating crash as Phillip fell to the floor shattering his leg.

After taking an initial two weeks leave to help Phillip cope with surgery and inpatient recovery, I was faced with the prospect of my husband being transferred to a nursing home for care as he learned to walk again. There was no way I was going to let that happen. He was in his 40s!

My manager set me up with a laptop and mobile at home and we set up my working hours to flex around his needs. I would work early, then put a “Do Not Disturb” on communicator from breakfast to mid-morning. Then I would work again. I worked like this for four months. My manager was fantastic and I met all my targets working outside of standard business hours.

Working from home you can feel compelled to work till late. I got myself into a rhythm and made 8.30pm the cut off. It made sure I had time for a cup of tea and a biscuit with my husband and spend time with him, not caring, just being with him.

Once Phillip, who was also a Telstra employee at the time, was ready to return to work, my flexible work arrangements were altered again. During his return to work program they arranged for him to be in the same office as me so that we could travel together. I would leave early and then log on again from home. My manager Karen was the one who really ensured I got the best out of my job and caring. She really understood the HR policy around caring.

Ultimately the company doesn’t want to lose you if it’s just about making some adjustments to get over a hump. There’s assistance in the company to get you through and for me it’s been a good experience. My advice to anyone who finds themselves in a position where they need to care for a loved one is let people know when you are struggling. Also reach out and see what’s available in your community and get assistance.

Carers provide personal care, support and assistance to a person who is ill, frail aged, or has a disability. That includes about 1 in 8 Australians. In addition, Telstra’s carer’s leave policies extends to parents and guardians of minors.

Learn more about how flexibility comes to life at Telstra.