Who is a carer?
Carers play a crucial role in our community—often without realising. For many people, looking after a loved one is 'just what you do'. They are mums and dads, sons and daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, spouses, friends and neighbours.
The Carers (Recognition) Act 2008 defines a carer as:
"An individual who provides, in a non-contractual and unpaid capacity, ongoing care or assistance to another person who, because of disability, frailty, chronic illness or pain, requires assistance with everyday tasks."
The Act includes the Carers Charter which contains 13 guiding principles for improving recognition and support for carers.
In Queensland, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 484,400 people—or 10.5% of the state's population, were 'carers' in 2012.
Help for carers
Whether you are a carer for a few hours a week or all day every day, caring for a relative, friend or neighbour can take its toll.
Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer ‘yes' to any of these questions, find out what support is available to you.
- Is your situation out of control?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed, confused or shocked by your situation?
- Do you find it difficult to say 'no'?
- Would you like a break from caring?
- Do you no longer see your friends?
- Are you feeling isolated and don't know how to connect to others?
- Do you feel that nobody understands what you are going through?
- Would you like to learn some coping or stress management skills?
- Are you dealing with sadness, grief or loss (this could include loss of the life you used to know or loss of opportunities for the person you care for)?
- Are you going through a transition i.e. giving up your job to look after somebody?
- Would you like some practical problem-solving techniques?
- Do you need help to focus on your own health and wellbeing?
- Would you like to just talk to someone about your situation?
- Are you feeling guilty, frustrated or angry about the situation?
- Are you afraid about what will happen when you can no longer perform your caring role?