Cathy Costa is a hard worker. In addition to her job in the public service and as a volunteer in a leading youth development program, Cathy is a mum to three sons – one of whom suffers from severe autism. John, now in his early twenties, still requires full time support to get through the day.
Over the years Cathy has had a number of Canberra support services help her with John. But when it came to washing, it was always a constant struggle.
“My machine was running from 7am in the morning until 11pm at night,” she recalls. “And it kept blowing up. I went through two motors and two water pumps in just 18 months. It couldn’t handle the number of loads and the waterproof bed pads.”
Cathy tried to find local services to help her but came across two problems: the larger linen companies weren’t interested in helping a single household, and the smaller companies all used hospital linen.
“No one in my house is sick,” Cathy says firmly. “It’s a disability. So I did not want my house feeling like a hospital with hospital-style sheets and that clinical smell. I realised that many other carers have the same problem. Even for people that are ill; if they are not in a hospital it’s because they want to be home. So why would they make their home feel like a hospital with hospital linen?”
After a year of planning, Cathy launched Conder House Laundry & Linen Service.
The laundry service caters to clients who want to use their own linen or need their clothing washed, and includes pick up, wash, dry, fold and drop off. It is also able to cater for people with chemical allergies.
The linen service provides a range of quality, home-style sheets (including fitted and coloured), as well as bed and chair pads.
Being focused on individual households means they can be flexible with delivery and their range of linen.
Conder House now services a variety of clients across Canberra. “One of our clients is a self-employed diesel mechanic who also couldn’t obtain services from large linen companies,” says Cathy. “We’ve also had several families struggling without a washing machine whilst waiting for it to be repaired.
“This business has provided my son with a great future, as he would find working in traditional employment very difficult. It’s hard for him to function at various times throughout the day. He’s non-verbal and requires the assistance of a support worker. Helping me run Conder House gives him and my other sons a great way to contribute to the local community in a purposeful way.”
Cathy has plans to expand to the outer regions of the ACT, but for now she is focussed on providing a service that helps makes the lives of Canberran carers that little bit easier.
“We try to be as flexible as possible. For us, it’s about making it work for the customer and how they want or need it to be. Our true mission is to help them maintain that homely feel. I’ve always felt that way. There’s a place for clinical, but home is home.”