Getting Support as a Carer
When we take on the responsibility of caring for others, we invest a significant amount of our own energy in attending to their needs. The job of a caregiver can be demanding and draining at times. It’s crucial to recognise that in order to provide effective care to another person, we must prioritise self-care. By taking care of ourselves first we ensure that we have the capacity and well-being to adequately care for someone else.
Getting support as a carer is essential to top quality care. Respite care, flexible work arrangements with employers and access to counselling are all great ways to support carers. Establishing a support network can provide emotional support, access to healthcare ensures physical well-being and financial assistance can help with expenses.
The role of a caregiver is not easily compartmentalised, especially if you’re caring for a family member or serving as a live-in carer. The responsibility of caring for someone else can elicit both emotional and physical demands. There are various support options available for carers in order for you to fulfil your caregiving role to the best of your ability.
How can carers be supported?
Supporting carers is essential to ensure the wellbeing of both the carer and individuals they care for. There are some significant ways in which support can be provided to carers:
- Respite care – Make the most of respite care. This is when another trained caregiver can fill the position temporarily, allowing a primary carer to have a break and recharge.
- Flexible work arrangements – if you are juggling a career as well as caring for someone, you can arrange flexible work options with your employer to make your days more manageable.
- Employer support – Some employers can offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that provide resources and counselling for employees also taking on caregiving responsibilities.
- Access to information – Seek out educational resources, workshops or training sessions about the type of care you need to provide, better care options and ways to manage self-care.
- Emotional support – Establish your own support network. Seek out counselling groups and connect with other caregivers to share experiences, concerns and solutions. Family members and friends can also help to support you emotionally.
- Healthcare access – It’s important for carers to have access to regular healthcare checkups to monitor their own health, as caregiving can be physically and mentally demanding. See the Health Care Card option below for more information about discounted medicines.
- Assistive technology – An Occupational Therapist can help to assess the need for assistive technology that can help with daily activities, taking some weight off of carers and helping people with disabilities to live more independently.
- Financial assistance – We’ve outlined the available options below for government financial assistance for carers in Australia.
What is a carer entitled to?
In Australia a caregiver is entitled to payments from the government if you are providing ongoing care for someone in need. There are two main types of carer payments. What you are eligible for is determined by your circumstances and the needs of the person you are caring for.
If you provide constant care to someone with a disability, a medical condition, or an adult over 65 in need of care. “Constant care” refers to providing care for this person for most of your day or roughly equating to a full day of work and prevents you from working full time. This payment can help you provide constant care for up to 6 months at a time.
The Carer Allowance is a fortnightly supplementary payment of $144.80 provided to a carer who cares for someone who needs daily support. You could qualify for this allowance if you care for someone with a terminal medical condition or someone who requires daily assistance for more than 12 months.
Additional support from the government for carers include:
If you receive Carer Payment, Carer Allowance or both, you may also be eligible for the annual carer supplement of up to $600. It will be implemented automatically if you are receiving the carer payments over the period of July 1st and aims to help with any costs involved in caring for someone with a disability or medical condition.
Child Disability Assistance Payment is an annual lump sum that will apply to you if you receive Carer Allowance. This payment will be automatically implemented if you provide for a child with disability or severe medical condition and receive Carer Allowance for the period including July 1st.
The Carer Adjustment Payment is a one-off payment for any carers of a child younger than 7 years of age who has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition or disability following a catastrophic event. These types of events could include:
- Childhood stroke
- A severe medical diagnosis such as cancer
- Catastrophic accidents such as car accidents
You will need to prove eligibility for this payment when you apply and how much you receive depends on your family’s circumstances.
The Australian Government allows 63 days of respite care each calendar year with full carer allowance and carer payments. These days off give you the opportunity to do whatever you need to, whether going away for a holiday, spending time with family or Netflix and chilling in your safe space.
The respite can be provided for my family members taking over your responsibilities or by a respite service who can provide a qualified professional in your place. Maple Community Services offer Respite Accommodation for people living with disabilities that meets their support needs on a short-term basis. Additionally, some community organisations might organise group or one-on-one activities and events for the person you care for to give you some time off.
If you are a carer for someone with a disability or severe medical condition and receive payments from the government, you may also be able to claim a Health Care Card to help you with the cost of your health care. With the help of this concession card you have access to cheaper medicines and other discounts.
If you have any questions regarding support for carers, please reach out to our experts at Maple Community Services.