One in 10 Australians provide unpaid care to family members or friends for many reasons. These include disability, chronic conditions, mental health conditions, drug and alcohol addictions, as well as ageing and terminal illness.
Our carers do an amazing job. Almost one million of Australia’s carers are ‘primary carers’ who have caring duties that make up a significant part of their daily life. They provide complex duties for our most vulnerable Australians.
What’s the impact on the carers?
The first National Carer Wellbeing Survey, released in October 2021, found that Australia’s carers are 2.5 times more likely to have low wellbeing and high psychological distress compared to the average person.
The survey, conducted by Carers Australia and the University of Canberra, shows that 55% of respondents have low wellbeing compared to just 20% of the broader population. The older the carer gets, the larger the wellbeing ‘gap’ becomes. Wellbeing is poorest among carers aged 45 to 54 – with 66% reporting low wellbeing.
The longer a person is a carer, the more their wellbeing decreases. Once a person no longer has caring obligations, their wellbeing increases.
It’s also important to consider measures of ‘ill being’, including psychological distress. Carers have significantly higher rates of psychological distress than the average person. Carers aged 30 to 44 suffer the greatest psychological distress (6.7 points higher than the general population).
Almost all carers reported multiple challenges:
- 64% did not have time for themselves
- 50-57% experienced negative impacts on their social life, finances, and control over their life
- 40% experienced negative impacts on their health and relationships.
Carers Australia CEO Liz Callaghan said: “It is distressing to see the impact caring can have on a person. The caring role can be a rewarding one, but is often so demanding.”
How can we make life easier for carers?
Carers need time off without any caring responsibilities to rest and rejuvenate.
Having access to support – whether from family/friends or formal support services – is associated with elevated wellbeing. Wellbeing was 10 to 11 points higher if the carer had access to support from family/friends or respite support.
However, the survey found just 19% of carers are able to easily organise family/friends to help if they are ill or need a break. More than a quarter (28%) have no access to this type of support.
Beyond family and friends, 31% of carers access respite support services.
CareChoice provides in-home respite support so that carers can take a well-earned break from their caring responsibilities. This time could include a long walk or hike, a meal or movie with a friend, a swim, or a coffee and some uninterrupted reading time. Or a carer may prefer to use the time to attend personal appointments.
Our respite services can be arranged on a regular basis or in an emergency. We can provide support workers on week days, weekends, evenings, overnight or even 24-hour support. We do require a minimum booking of four hours and a minimum of eight hours a week.
As a Victorian service provider, we have support workers across Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mornington Peninsula, and the Latrobe Valley.
We work with you to ensure that each support worker is suitably matched to the individual needs of your loved one. We’re committed to ensuring a positive and engaging experience for the person receiving respite support.
Breaking down barriers to accessing respite care
The survey respondents highlighted many challenges in accessing support services including:
- difficulty finding out about available support services
- long waiting times to access services
- lack of availability of services in their local area.
We’re keen to break down these barriers and provide respite support to those who need it before carers reach crisis point and experience burnout.
The survey concluded: “Those who do have access to these types of support have significantly improved wellbeing compared to those without support. This highlights the importance of continuing to identify ways of increasing the availability of both informal and formal support for Australia’s carers.”
To find out more about CareChoice’s in-home respite support, please phone 1300 737 942 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.