Support for informal carers is due to get an almost $800 million boost! Findings from the Royal Commission highlighted the need for more support for informal carers, and the recent Budget responded, allocating $798.3 million. $100 million of this will go towards the government funded Carer Gateway.
What is Carer Gateway?
Carer Gateway is a government funded online platform which provides support, advice and guidance for carers. If you care for someone with a physical or intellectual disability, chronic or terminal illness, or age-related decline, you can access free support through the Carer Gateway.
The newly allocated $103.4 million will go towards helping aged care assessors to make early referrals to Carer Gateway services, and will support around 134,000 carers across Australia.
Informal carers will be able to access the following support services for free through Carer Gateway:
- peer support
- care planning
- emergency respite
- online and in-person support
- skills training
5 tips for carers
1. Know what you’re dealing with
It is important that to learn as much as you can about the general health and wellness of the person you’re caring for, particularly any conditions or disease they may have. This way, you are best prepared to deal with the issues that will arise as a carer.
Speak to your loved one’s medical professionals, ask questions, and ensure you understand exactly what they are saying. If the person you’re caring for has dementia, make sure you know which type of dementia it is they have.
2. Managing your feelings
Among the most common types of emotional feelings that you are likely to encounter as a carer of someone is guilt, anger, frustration or grief.
Guilt rears its head for several reasons. You may feel guilty because:
- you feel you are not fulfilling your carer duties to expectations
- you sometimes get frustrated, impatient or angry toward the person you are caring for
- you sometimes wish you did not have to care for this person
- you are neglecting the needs of other important people in your life
- you wish you had more time for your own interests
- you are embarrassed by the public behaviour of the person you are caring for
- you are planning to move the person into a permanent care, such as a nursing home
Try not to beat yourself up about any of the above scenarios. It is quite common to feel guilty under any of these circumstances.
It is also natural to feel angry and frustrated at times. This anger may be directed toward yourself, toward family members and friends who you believe could be doing more to help you, toward government and non-government agencies that you are relying on, or even toward the person you are caring for. The important thing is not to try to deal with this anger on your own. Seek peer support, advice or counselling through Carer Gateway. Or, speak to your GP.
Grief does not just occur when someone close to us has died. In the case of dementia, it is common grieve for the person with dementia, as they were before they developed the condition. After all, you are dealing with the loss of memories together, the relationship you once had, and even the future that was planned. As with anger, there is no need to grieve on your own. Seek help if you feel the grief is becoming overwhelming.
Here are some tips to help you manage your feelings associated with guilt, anger, grief and other emotions.
- Acknowledge your feelings and try to determine why you feel the way you do. You may be able to avoid such strong feelings next time.
- Don’t take on more than you are capable of. Nobody (except perhaps yourself) expects you to be a superhero. And certainly don’t compare yourself to others.
- Tell someone about your feelings. They can help with perspective and be a support for you. The person you talk to can be someone close to you or a professional.
- Try to rid yourself of negative thoughts before you go to bed at night, or at least when you wake up. Try to start each day in a positive frame of mind.
- Identify a ritual or practice or activity that calms you down and makes you feel better.
- If possible, do not make decisions while in an emotionally fragile state.
- Prioritise what needs to be done. Sometimes the least important matters take care of themselves or end up not needing to be done.
3. Keeping fit and healthy
While there is probably a focus on ensuring the person you’re caring for stays fit and healthy, it is equally important that you do too. Therefore, it is important to:
- maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and eat regularly
- maintain a regular physical exercise regime. Try to dedicate yourself to some form of physical exercise for 30 minutes every day
- keep your brain active – try a crossword or sudoku puzzle every day
- maintain your own interests and hobbies
- continue to socialise with family and friends
- get regular, undisturbed sleep
And if you also have a disability or condition, ensure that you keep on top of its management.
4. Taking a break
Every carer needs a break. While caring for someone, ensure that you have adequate ‘me time’ every day. For this you may not need someone else to stand in. It may be a matter of engaging in one’s own preferred activities while the person you are caring for is resting. Or, depending on the person’s ability to cope alone, going for a walk, doing some shopping or sitting in a nearby park.
Longer term breaks do require other assistance. This can take the form of another family member or friend taking over, or seeking respite care for a day, a few days or even longer. CareAbout can help source respite care options in your area.
5. Seek support from your network
Caring for someone can be an extremely stressful, emotional, time-consuming and physically demanding task. If your loved one is able to continue living in their home, the ideal scenario is for the caring duties to be shared. This ensures that the emotional and physical burden does not fall on the shoulders of just one person.
You’re not alone!
There are over 2.65 million carers in Australia. You are not alone. If you need help finding a provider for home care or respite, get in touch with our expert Care Advisers. We’re here to support you, too.