Despite the heavy toll, home care provider The CareSide finds unpaid carers love their work
Caregiving is an indispensable part of Australia’s healthcare system, with the work performed by Australia’s 2.65 million unpaid caregivers valued at nearly $78 billion.
Yet, it often takes a toll on the carer as a new survey shows.
Home care provider The CareSide surveyed 707 unpaid caregivers living in Australia between November and December of 2023. The respondents were 91 per cent female and 9 per cent male. Only 6 per cent of respondents were younger than 44 years of age; with 75 per cent of caregivers surveyed 55 years or older, and 40 per cent were 65 or older.
In the survey, 94 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they were often physically or mentally exhausted due to their responsibilities as a caregiver. It was hardly surprising with more than 40 per cent providing 60 hours of unpaid caregiving work or more every week, and another 13% above the typical 38-hour work week threshold.
Despite all the challenges, the overwhelming majority of caregivers in the survey believed they were doing a good job. More than 90% agreed or strongly agreed that they provide good and adequate care.
So, how can Australia better care for its carers?
Adam Birch, a counselling team leader for Carers WA, where he provides therapeutic support to caregivers through counselling, workshops, and support groups, said many caregivers struggle with the concept of respite care because it pulls them away from what they feel they’re supposed to be doing – delivering the care themselves.
“Respite options need to be utilised as a preventative strategy to burnout, not because burnout is already happening.”
A good reminder that there is help available to assist carers in their caregiving journey – you can find out more about respite options by calling the Federal Government’s Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737.