National Carers Week: Making carers, visible, valued and supported

Staff and carers came together during National Carers Week to celebrate the incredible contribution carers make to the lives of their loved ones and the health system.

St George Hospital held a fun event to raise awareness about the diversity of caring roles, with succulent planting and a visit from Roxy the Labrador for some pet therapy. Staff and Aboriginal carers enjoyed morning tea together at both St George Hospital’s Bidgigal Aboriginal Carers Lounge and Sutherland Hospital's Dharawal Aboriginal Carers Lounge. Events were also held at Prince of Wales, Sydney/Sydney Eye and War Memorial hospitals.

Sydney Boucher, Carers Program Manager, says the week was an opportunity to raise awareness about the important and challenging role of the 2.5 million carers around the country.

“The pandemic has been a very challenging time for unpaid carers, whether they have been caring for loved ones for years or they’re one of the many people who took on a new caring role in the last few years. We want to recognise the enormous contribution our staff carers and patient carers make to our health and social care system.”

One such carer is Gary, who has been a carer for more than 30 years. When his wife’s health deteriorated, Gary became a carer out of necessity. And since he also cared for his mother-in-law, father and uncle, he took early retirement to look after everyone. As one of the District’s carer representatives, he helps make sure the needs of carers are considered when designing health services.

“Being a self-funded retiree with a number of family members to care for has been challenging. I had to fight to be recognised as a carer and obtain basic support services. Being able to receive adequate support has been difficult”, said Gary.

Although being able to assist family members has been rewarding, witnessing their deterioration and navigating the change from husband/relative to carer, has been challenging. Ensuring that carers receive consistent and effective support is the reason Gary got involved and continues to contribute as an advocate.

Although recognition of carers has come a long way, carers are more likely than other Australians to experience a range of health, wellbeing and socioeconomic issues,” Ms Boucher continued. “By supporting carers as part of the overall care team, we better support the patient themselves.”

Four people sitting in the Aboriginal Carers Lounge at St George Hospital