FOR many people, being a carer for their loved one is equivalent to a full-time job, sometimes with little or no support.
That is why recent changes to the state government's Carer Support Program will be more than welcome.
The program provides support for all Victorian carers, including:
- one-off/short-term support for carers that can add to other services or fill service gaps
- support to people in a care relationship, and at the same time/place if people want to be together while having the support service
- supporting people's wellbeing (eg. respite through social, health and other support.)
Under the guideline changes, that definition of carer is now more inclusive and takes in a broad group that includes unpaid carers of a person who is frail aged, who has a disability, dementia (including younger onset) or mental illness, or who is living with an ongoing chronic illness or medical condition.
Another change is that once a care recipient has passed away or has been placed into a permanent professional care facility, the carer will continue to receive support for another six months.
This change, in particular, recognises what can be a significant time of transition for carers, when continued support is important.
There is also an increased focus on under-represented carers, including LGBTIQ; Aboriginal; under 25s; rural, regional and remote; and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Carers are able to refer through service providers.
Support programs are provided in the South West through Barwon Health Care respite centre, Warrnambool City Council and Mpower.
The three organisations work in conjunction with each other and can be contacted direct to discuss carer support needs and register for support services as required.
Key findings of carer surveys
Consistent with previous surveys on carers:
- They are typically a female primary carer between 45 and 64 years, educated beyond high school and not in paid work
- The typical care recipient was an adult son, aged 18 to 64 years, with a physical disability, only able to be left alone for a few hours and requiring 60+ hours per week of care
- About half of respondents (53 per cent) were living on a household income of less than $50,000 per year, and 40 per cent reported difficulty in meeting their living expenses in the past 12 months
- About half of respondents provided 60+ hours of care per week, and almost one in three carers had been caring for over 20 years
We can all help carers by helping to raise awareness this National Carers Week by hosting a fundraiser tea or workshop.
One in eight employees is in a caring role so have a look at Carers Australia's Work & Care information for a carer-friendly workplace at carersweek.com.au.