Australia has more than 2.8 million unpaid carers whose combined efforts equate to more than $60 billion a year (if this was provided by paid carers). These 2.8 million silent heroes play an integral role in providing informal care and take the pressure off an already stretched aged and community care industry.
Jennene Buckley, CEO of Feros Care urged the community to take a moment and thank the many unpaid carers and ask if they need a helping hand during National Carers’ Week (October 16-22).
Who are Australia’s unpaid carers?
Nearly half of all unpaid carers are supporting their partner, while a further 20 percent are caring for a parent. These statistics indicate that the bulk of people needing care are seniors, and are being cared for by their husbands and wives. In addition, there’s 20 percent of adult children – who are presumably part of the sandwich generation – juggling work, raising a family and caring for ageing parents.
Being a carer is not easy, and can limit opportunities for socialising, making new friends and maintaining relationships. If you’re an older carer and are looking after your partner, you may also have your own health and / or mobility issues. “The reality is that carers often overlook the importance of self care because they’re busy looking after others. Considering the average carer spends around 40 hours per week (which in 2015 was equivalent to 1.9 billion hours of unpaid care), there is a real concern that without some respite, they can and will burn out.
“Carers Week is an opportune time to offer a helping hand and to encourage them to reach out for some respite. This can be as simple as having a coffee with them and listening to their story through to helping them to organise some respite care so they can have a break,” Ms Buckley said.
Respite options include residential respite (high or low care weekly packages) as well as in-home respite where the care is delivered in the home. Additional support for carers is available in technology alarms and monitors. These give peace of mind to carers of people facing risks of falls, diabetes, dementia, epilepsy, chronic disease, physical disability and post hospitalisation care.
Recommendations for Family Carers
Feros Care recommends keeping a list of care service providers, online carer support groups and other helpful, informative resources at your fingertips and compile a carer record book listing medical information of the person in care and emergency contact numbers that can be given to police, ambulance or hospital staff.