A growing number of Australians are taking on the important role of carer; but while there are many support services and resources for the person who is sick, there aren’t as many for our carers.
Cancer Council Australia, Swinburne University of Technology and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre have collaborated on a new project "Australian Carers Talk", which is a Cancer Australia Supporting people with cancer Grant initiative, funded by the Australian Government. The research has informed carer-specific, evidence-based information and support in the form of a new video series, Australian Carers Talk, launched by Cancer Council Australia.
Care for carers is desperately needed
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that more than one in ten Australians are informal carers. This involves providing essential assistance in managing medications and symptoms, personal care, transportation, and social and emotional support to those affected by disease or disability – which includes more than one million Australians currently living with or who have lived with cancer.
Despite a growing number of Australians taking on important caregiving roles, research from Swinburne University of Technology and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre reveals that carers often receive limited support themselves. Furthermore, there is significant demand from carers and health professionals for information and support designed for carers.
“Family carers often experience physical, emotional and financial hardship as a result of the extra demands of caring for a loved one,” said Swinburne professor of health psychology Professor Penelope Schofield, Principal Lead of the Australian Carers Talk project.
“Our study found that rural and urban carers typically felt ill-prepared for caregiving responsibilities, were often overlooked by the health system and experience emotional and physical burdens related to their caregiving.”
Whilst the research found rural carers had greater social support than urban carers, rural and regional populations are more likely to experience disadvantage when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
“This suite of videos made by carers for carers, recognises the critical role family carers play in the overall care of people with cancer and will help them navigate this challenging time in a family’s life”.
Building digital resources that meet the need
Australian carers and cancer care specialists share personal experiences, practical tips and guidance in a new suite of videos hosted by Cancer Council Australia. The videos were created to better support those caring for people living with cancer.
The Australian Carers Talk series features everyday Australians speaking about their experiences of providing care at every step of a cancer experience – from diagnosis to bereavement – talking about the hurdles they faced, what they learned along the way, and what advice they’d offer other carers.
One of the featured carers said he hopes the videos “will help carers of cancer patients through a challenging period in their lives, as they share briefly in the experiences of those who have already been carers of cancer patients”.