Carer Support – there’s more to it than you might know……

What started off as a post about carer support groups and resources unearthed a slightly unwieldy amount of local, state and national information. There is more to carer support than I knew…..

Carer Support

At grass root level there is my Council Carers Group – it meets every Wednesday in a local Municipal Council room. There is a program of speakers, in March there was a Solicitor addressing Power of Guardianship and changes to the Power of Attorney Act. Two weeks later there was a Traditional Chinese Medicine Teacher delivering Relaxation and Meditation.

The April Council Carers Group schedule has an ehealth Support Officer from Medicare Local talking about ‘How ehealth can help you as a Carer.’ On 23rd April a Loss and Grief Counselor is discussing ‘Compassion Fatigue and strategies to help you cope.‘ Wednesday 30th a full day bus trip is offered! With April concluded by AlzheimersNSW addressing ‘The emotional impact of caring and looking after yourself.‘   The Wednesday meetings in-between speakers are for more relaxed discussions between locals led by the Council Carers/ Volunteers Co-ordinator. This is a fabulous initiative, attended by a variety of individuals with a wealth of knowledge to share over a cuppa.

My local Council Co-ordinator gave me an Australian Government Initiative Carers Relaxation CD. I popped the disc into my player; to appraise its benefits. The CD cover introduces relaxation; “making time can have the following benefits:”

  • relaxes muscles
  • reduces high blood pressure
  • helps vital organs work better
  • improves resistance to viruses and disease
  • reduces pain
  • helps think more clearly
  • releases tension
  • increases energy
  • improves your ability to cope
  • improves sleep

What else can I do?” The CD cover asks, “try this checklist to see how well you are taking care of yourself,” it suggests:

  • Do you have someone to talk to about feelings?
  • Are you trying to get some regular exercise?
  • Are you trying to get enough rest and sleep?
  • Are you eating regular meals?
  • Do you get a break from caring?
  • Have you got some regular times for relaxation?

“What if I’m not coping?” The CD cover informs me: “Most carers have times when they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope – you can contact your Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre” on 1800 242 636, they have  65 ‘walk-in’ shopfronts throughout Australia. See here for more information

An expansive level of support comes from the Northern Sydney Carer Support Service. Their leaflet made me aware of a variety of agencies, the services are wide-ranging and complex including:

  • Carer Support Service Northern Sydney Local Health District  – 9462 9488            See here
  • Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT)
  • Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres – 1800 052 222 – See here
  • Carers Australia  – NSW  – 1800 242 636 – See here 
  • Centrelink  – 13 27 17
  • Carers of people with Disability ADHC – 9407 9650
  • Carers of people with Dementia – The National Dementia Helpline -1800 100 500
  • Mental Health Helpline  – 1800 011 511
  • Continence Helpline – 1800 330 066
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14

These agencies are usually approached when carers have issues or a problem that requires a solution, I’m aware that planning ahead can be beneficial in some circumstances, talking to staff outside a crisis may be prudent?

As I delved further into the www of carer support information I became aware that there is an effected philosophy that encircles carers and an established NSW Carers Charter for guidance. There is a Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 and a National Carer Strategy.

  • The Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 – See here
  • The NSW Carers Charter – See here
  • The National Carer Strategy through the Care Aware website – See here .
  • Support for carers in NSW – See here.

The NSW Government’s intention is to develop a Carers Strategy to make a practical difference to carers; to improve their lives. Carers incorporate a variety of individuals from all backgrounds, religions, cultures and ability (financial and physical), so It is imperative that carers are consulted in the collaborative process used to develop state and federal strategy. Facilitation of carer awareness in the community and society, recognition of the unpaid work that supports people with disabilities, and furthering the realization that the well-being of carers is interconnected with the well-being of the person they care for is essential. Facilitating change for the better takes time and energy but without carers view-points or opinions the future may be negotiated without us?

The question I ask is where do I fit in this big picture? Am I supported through my local Council Carers Group, am I interested in volunteering for the Carers Advisory Council? Where are you in this framework? What do you need? What can you contribute?  It’s an ever revolving, evolving framework but better to be fully aware and have the choice to be involved.

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