A support space called The Blake Room will be opened by Trusted Home Care in Fountain Plaza at Erina in the new year.
The community hub will become a training area for healthcare providers, a facility for community events, a social space for those working with clients who live in isolated circumstances, and a place open to community events that promote good physical and mental health.
The initiative by Trusted Home Care Owner and Director, Karen Barrett, was created in dedication to her lifelong friend Kim Blake, whose life was tragically taken in 2015.
“It is a branch of Trusted Home Care that I have been passionate about because of what happened, especially the mental health of it which we really want to focus on,” Barrett said.
“We wanted to provide education, support, and create a bit of a community hub in Erina because I feel like it could be used really well as it is quite central.
“I wanted to tie in everything around caring for people at home – the training for manual handling, a place for the support workers, and any other providers who would like to use the facilities as well.
“Next year we are going to put in a disabled accessible kitchen where we are going to teach life skills to people with disabilities and in chairs.”
Barrett said she would be running a range of programs such as IT training for the elderly and social workshops, but the space is also available for hire by others such as RTO’s, First Aid Trainers, therapists, or healthcare providers.
“I want the community to feel it is somewhere they can go and use the facility in a central location which has good access because we are on the ground floor, and we will automate the doors,” she said.
“I want it to be a bit of a feel-good space where people can come and get together.”
The story of Karen Barrett and Kim Blake started in university where they met.
As registered nurses, they both dedicated their professional careers to caring for others and training themselves to cater to the most complex cases.
In 2012, Blake was critically injured in a road accident, leading to her becoming disabled and living with an acquired brain injury.
Previous to this, Barrett had had her first child, Eric, who was born with cerebral palsy.
Having three children and caring for Eric allowed Barrett to support Blake with her disability, deepening their bond.
Blake’s disability provided a heavy constraint on the lives of her husband, Geoff, and children.
Tragically in 2015, her life was taken by her husband because the mental battle he had fought in silence became too much.
He also took the lives of their three children, before driving to a dam on the property and taking his own life.
Out of the tragedy which affected an entire community, Barrett’s motivation was to create an area where people can come to feel comfortable, to grow, and to receive help.
“It is not a big corporate ‘let’s make money out of this’,” she said.
“It is more a community space where people can feel like they are supported.”