Frequently Asked Questions
Who are Carers?
A carer is an unpaid family member, friend or neighbour who supports those who are frail aged, disabled or chronically ill. Carers may: Assist with activities of daily living: Be a key person for transport, social support, medical appointment support etc: Provide emotional support and assist with decision making.
How do we Identify if there is a Carer?
Many Carers remain hidden in our community because they do not relate to the term "Carer". Rather they see themselves as wife /husband/son/daughter/friend or with some other relationship. As health professionals we need to consider the questions we ask to clarify if a person has or is a carer. We need to ask questions that relate to the life situation or relationship of the person who is the Carer, such as :
"Does someone close to you rely on you for care?" or " Is there someone close to you who provides you with assistance or support?"
How does a person become a "Carer"?
Most people don't choose to be a carer; the role has evolved due to changing circumstances. They may be the family member who lives closest to the ageing parent, they may have a nursing background and so are delegated by the rest of the family, or they may find suddenly or even gradually that the husband/wife relationship has also become a carer/ care recipient one. A parent of a child with a disability is a parent and a carer.
Are there many Carers on the Central Coast?
It is estimated from ABS statistics 2003, that there are over 40,000 Carers living on the Central Coast, of these 6,000 are Primary Carers (unpaid carers, who provide the necessary sustained care and assistance to another person to keep them safe at home). One in 5 households has a Carer or a care-recipient.
I hear the term "young carers" - who are they ?
Young Carers are children and young people up to 25 years of age who help care in families where someone has an illness, a disability, a mental health issue or other health problem. The person they help care for might be a parent, a sibling, a grandparent or other relative, or maybe a friend. A young carer might help out with cleaning or cooking, with medications, therapy, medical and other appointments, with keeping this person safe or watching out to make sure that they are feeling OK. Across Australia, over 390,000 children and young people help care for their relatives.
How does the role of the Carer assist the Health Service?
Carers are the direct link to the experiences of the person they assist. Research shows that effective communication with Carers can lead to reduction in hospital stay and increased success of discharge. It also shows that it is cost effective to support Carers who can prevent patients unnecessarily returning to hospital. Carers save the NSW Government $5.4 billion every year.
Why do carers need extra support?
It has been recognised by governments that Carers make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of our community. In doing so it is acknowledged that Carers have different needs to those that they assist. Carers have been invisible (hidden carers),and they are often reluctant to reveal their own health & support needs. They have told us that their health needs are secondary to those they assist. However Carers have an increased risk of health complaints than non-carers. Without Carers our health and community care system would grind to a halt. Caring impacts on the carer in several ways, so we need better ways of Caring 4 Carers!
What is the impact of caring?
Most carers tell us that caring is a role they find rewarding and satisfying but many also face challenges that they did not originally expect to face as a carer. Each caring relationship will be different and the impact of the caring role will differ from one situation to the next, and alters over time.
Generally Carers have reported feeling pressure on their employment situation, loss of income or increased costs associated with caring, suffering losses or strains on relationships, both with the care recipient and others. Carers are sometimes socially isolated, or experience a feeling of being trapped. Research has shown that Carer health issues include high levels of stress, exhaustion, chronic grief, anger and frustration and that carers are more likely to ignore their own health needs while attending to the needs of others.
What is Respite, is it for the care recipient or the Carer?
Respite should refer to services which provide a break from the caring role and /or a support to the caring role. For different carers respite will mean different things. Some carers do not want to be separated from the person they care for, instead they are seeking a break from their caring role or assistance with some of their caring duties. It may be for a few hours, a day, a night or longer. Respite is a way of relieving the stress of being a carer. Respite ideally should be individualised based around the expressed needs of the carer.
Examples of respite may range from in-home support (services to assist with transport, personal care etc) to overnight or short term residential accommodation. Respite can include support for families to holiday together or participate in social events and activities.
What do Carers say they want from their Health Care Providers?
Clear and accurate information
Time to consider the treatment or diagnosis
Carer fears and worries listened to
Acknowledgment of their expert understanding of the day to day needs of the patient, and their knowledge of the patient's history.
A willingness to have their questions answered
Professionals willing to consider options/alternatives.
I work as a Health Professional so therefore aren't I a Carer?
Carer Support and the NSW Carers Program recognises the important role of Health Care Professionals and support workers in their paid roles, which often goes beyond that required. We encourage the use of the terms, Health Care Worker, support worker, paid worker, support assistant etc for those people who are paid to provide support.
The term Carer should be used in relation to those in unpaid carer roles, who often care for someone 24/7, without pay, superannuation or holidays.
Carers are unpaid, so what about Centrelink benefits?
Centrelink has some benefits that carers may be eligible to apply for depending on their individual circumstances.
Carer Payment is an income support payment for carers who, because of the demands of their caring role, are unable to support themselves through full-time work. This payment is income and assets tested, both for the carer and the person being cared for.
Carer Allowance is an income supplement that may be paid to carers who provide daily care for an adult or child at home who has a disability, chronic illness or who is frail aged. The two streams are; Carer Allowance (Child) where the care receiver is a dependent child aged under 16 years or Carer Allowance (Adult) where the care receiver is aged 16years or over. There are separate eligibility criteria for the two streams.
Carer Allowance is currently $94.70 per fortnight,(as at May 2006) and can be paid in addition to Carer Payment or any other Centrelink payment.
For further information on either Carer Payment or Carer Allowance contact Centrelink on 13 2717
Where do I get resources and information to support Carers I might encounter both in my workplace, and in my personal life?
Contact Carer Support on 4320 5556 or call in at 21 Beane St, Gosford.