Supporting those who care

Carers Support

Jenny* is one of the 84,000 Tasmanians with an unpaid caring role.

In our communities, many of us are helping to care for a family member or friend living with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition or terminal illness, or who are frail or aged.

Jenny’s partner has had a series of health challenges, including a stroke.

“Every day has become very precious to us,” she said. “He came through the stroke, but it had effects. For example, he lost his peripheral vision so was no longer allowed to drive. That really changed our lives”.

“Being a carer is 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said. “There are times I do feel guilty because, although I love him dearly, sometimes I think ‘oh what about me?’”

“I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my identity in any way – I am still who I am,” Jenny said. “But I have lost my rock. In the past, I’d always turn to him if I had a worry. But that’s gone. It put me in a position where I’m the one who has to handle everything”.

Jenny recently shared her experiences as part of training for Anglicare’s team of support workers, who deliver support to older Tasmanians living independently at home, and to those who care for them.

The Anglicare training emphasised the importance of ensuring the well-being of carers, who are often dealing with significant physical and emotional demands..

Anglicare has a range of supports for carers including respite options such as in-home respite or residential respite. We also help to arrange breaks for carers to prevent exhaustion and burnout, take part in activities, catch up with friends, or attend carer support groups.

Anglicare has pastoral care services available to carers, and can organise professional counselling. We can also arrange therapeutic massage to give stress relief, improve vitality and state of mind, and address physical problems such as back pain.

Another guest speaker at the Anglicare training workshop, Angela Smith from Carers Tasmania said carers were part of a “holistic care unit”. “Without the carer, the person they support may not be able to stay in the home,” said Angela. “Often carers don’t understand the stress or pressure they are under and forget to care about themselves,” she said. “Anglicare workers can check in with carers to see how they are”.

Angela said everyone’s caring journey was different. “But many of the challenges that come up for carers are around a lack of time for themselves, lack of sleep and feeling guilty,” she said. She said it was important for carers to be prepared to accept the support on offer. “It’s about accepting that you don’t have to do it on your own,” she said.

Jenny said it had taken her a long time to reach a point where she was comfortable about taking a break. “I know it is important for carers to have some kind of respite,” she said. “I used to argue with my doctor about it. I finally agreed to go away with a carers’ group for three nights and it was wonderful to spend time with people going through all different stages, all different levels of caring. I knew they understood”.

“I don’t feel guilty now about taking a break,” said Jenny. “You do need other people to lean on”.

Find out more about Anglicare’s Aged and Home Care services.

*name changed for privacy

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