The challenges of living in Australia without extended family support

By Stuart Kim , Burgenstock Consulting

One of the greatest challenges I have found with managing my children's health in Australia has been the lack of supporting family networks to help out with situations of temporary crisis.

Like when my youngest child got sick, my wife who is a vet was in the middle of surgery and uncontactable I had my other two children at home due to school holidays. We didn't have an affiliated family doctor as we had left behind a strong doctor relationship in England.

I had the option of trying to find a last minute availability slot in a nearby practice in North Sydney or taking my son to the hospital and seeing if they could ascertain what the problem was.

The problem with the first option was there was no openings locally until the next day and calling around all the practices was impractical with a screaming infant demanding my full attention. The second option felt like overkill, but I knew that the staff there were highly trained and being a young child it was better to err on the side of caution.

However, in the absence of having any grandparents or cousins to support my other 2 children while I took option 2, the subconscious concern was managing 2 highly active children in a busy ED with lots of other sick people around was not highly motivating, especially since I had recently been there with another father who had had a head injury and it took them 8 hours to get all the checks and scans before they were able to go home again. So what to do.

Under duress, I, like many other people, jumped onto google to see what alternative options I had that might facilitate a more attractive and successful outcome for my son. I found the Dr Google and MyDoctor self help sites but couldn't trust myself to self interpret the right symptoms based on the guidance on those sites in case it was more serious.

I then found Medinet, which required me to download an app and go through a painless profile set up in order to access an online doctor who could provide professional guidance. I didn't have much background given my accelerated online research to what else it covered, but accessing a doctor immediately was a huge relief.

It then turned out my son simply required some Panadol and rest and my concerns were alleviated by the professional medical guidance provided. We even were able to have the pharmacy delivered to our home within a matter of hours which avoided me having to load the whole family up in the car and take on that challenge to collect the prescription.

As happens so often in many households, balance was fully re-established when my busy wife got home and took over the compassionate care of our son, but the reassurance and support I received through Medinet was priceless.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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