National Carers Week has prompted many in-depth discussions on how we can better support carers but as the week draws to a close it’s important to keep supporting our carers.
Envigor’s Tracey Silvester has been kept busy with interviews during National Carers Week, appearing on the Today Show, Macquarie Radio’s The Weekend Edition and ABC Radio Wide Bay and while it’s important we’re having these conversations it’s even more important that we keep having these conversations – not just once a year.
Carers in Australia – the statistics
According to Carers Australia:
- There are 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia
- If these 2.7 million carers gave up their caring roles, it would cost Australia $60.3 billion per year – or more than $1 billion each week.
Some other statistics that affect carers:
There are now more than 121,000 older Australians on the Home Care Package prioritisation queue. While these people wait for a care package at their assessed level, it falls to family carers to fill in the care gaps – putting many families under pressure.
Conversations about carers we need to keep having
Conversations about carers have centred not only on ensuring carers are financially supported, but also emotionally and practically.
The impact of caring on carers
Carers are carrying a heavy load and they are often doing this quietly, without fanfare and without much support from the wider community. So how can we better care for our carers?
As Tracey mentioned on the Today Show, it’s about acknowledging the contribution of carers from an economic standpoint as well as recognising the human and emotional toll of caring.
“Some carers can end up having a health event themselves because they are so focused on that caring role so they forget to do the things they need to do to keep themselves healthy,” says Tracey.
“They lose a lot of their social connections a lot of the time too as they don’t have the time to maintain friendships. So all of a sudden one day they’ve woken up and they’re a carer, their health has suffered and they feel isolated and the human toll of that is really significant.
“It’s a whole community debate – as a community we need to decide what’s important for us and what we want as a country and how we want to support each other.”
Letting carers know that it’s okay to ask for help
As Tracey mentioned on ABC Wide Bay, it’s important to ask and accept help if you need it.
“Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say ‘this is too hard’. Nobody will judge you for asking for assistance, it’s acknowledging that being a carer is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and that you need to be there for the long haul.
“So put your hand up and say ‘I need assistance’ and take whatever assistance is offered. It’s not a judgement on your capacity to do a good job if you ask for help, it’s actually allowing you to be there for the long haul rather than falling in a heap yourself halfway through and not able to continue in that role as you might like to.”