Nearly three million Australians are working as unpaid carers to support their friends, family or loved ones. Carers provide support to one or more person in their life with a disability, mental illness, chronic health issue or age-related condition. Every care situation is different. Some carers may help out with the weekly grocery shop, while others provide 24 hour nursing aid to a family member with high care needs.
To celebrate National Carers Week, cohealth and CarerLinks North (a service of Merri Health) hosted a Carers’ Morning Tea on 17 October. The event was an opportunity for carers to take some time out for themselves to look after their own health and wellbeing.
“Carers’ everyday lives are impacted by their caring role,” explains Jacqueline Taylor, Senior Carer Counsellor. “It’s easy for people to become socially isolated and experience changes in their relationships and family dynamics once they become a carer.”
“That’s why it’s so important to take some time out for yourself – to remember that you’re important in your own right.”
CarerLinks North is a joint program run by cohealth and Merri Health to support carers. The program helps find the best supports for short-term and ongoing care, and partners with carers to strengthen their wellbeing and support networks.
Kim, who came along to the morning tea, provides full-time care for her mother, and has been receiving dementia advice and training from CarerLinks since 2018.
“When I found CarerLinks last year, I said ‘Oh, thank God!’. They help me understand my mum’s symptoms and how to deal with them. I used to be so frustrated, but now I feel very supported.”
“In 2017, I quit my job in childcare to care for my mum. At first, I felt very unbalanced – I missed the kids. But the training has helped me realise that everything’s ok. Every day is different, but we’re learning together.”
“In the future, I’d like to help other people who were in the same position as me. I know how frustrating it can be when you’re a carer. But CarerLinks has helped me learn, and now I know how to do it. I want to pass that knowledge on to as many people as I can.”
Aside from the education, training, and dementia support that Kim accesses, CarerLinks North also offers emergency respite, support with assessment and planning, counselling, health and wellbeing coaching and peer support for carers.
There is also a dedicated service for young carers between the age of 12 and 25, and a bereavement support service for situations where the person a carer was supporting has passed away.
CarerLinks is a free service. If you, or someone you know, are a carer living in the Northern metropolitan region and would like some extra help, CarerLinks can make a big difference.
To find out more, or access services, you can go to the Merri Health website or call CarerLinks North on 03 9495 2500.