Carers, The Unsung Heroes

Carers take on many forms, and we wish to acknowledge those unsung heroes who care for loved ones, friends, parents, and clients.

Carers, The Unsung Heroes

Carers take on many forms, and we wish to acknowledge those unsung heroes who care for loved ones, friends, parents, and clients.

Who Are Carers?

A carer is a person who looks after someone with a disability, medical condition, mental illness, or an aged person. Most of these heroes do not see themselves as such, nor do many consider themselves as carers, just parents, children, partners, friends, and family.

Sometimes carers provide part-time help while many are full-time carers. Tasks may include hygiene help, showering, shaving, dressing, taking to the bathroom, changing continence aides, preparing meals, feeding, moving, changing position, and giving medication.

This may seem a lengthy list, but you can also add washing clothes and linen, taking to appointments, shopping and banking, and providing companionship. It is a huge role, but one must undertake it selflessly and without question.

How Many Carers Are There?

● There are over 2.65 million carers in Australia, which is a whopping 1 in every 11 Australians.
● Around 235,000 carers are under the age of twenty-five.
● Primary carers account for around 861,000 people.
● Women account for 7 out of every 10 primary carers.
● One-third of primary carers work 40 hours (or more) every week without being compensated.
● More than half of primary carers spend at least 20 hours each week providing care.
● In 2020 a report commissioned by Carers Australia found that if the government paid for all primary unpaid carers in Australia, the bill would be $77.9 billion, an increase of 29% from 2015.

Difficulties of Being a Carer

Life sometimes throws curveballs, and while some caring roles can be a gradual progression, others are thrust into the role without preparation due to a sudden injury or illness. Carers sometimes struggle to get support, and we often hear that they are confused where to turn.

As a continence specialist, I have spoken to many carers, but one stuck in my mind. It was a daughter who had been caring for her elderly mother with continence issues for 10 years. She had to get up two to three times a night to change her mother's wet bed sheets, and she had no idea where to turn for help.
After we quickly offered her solution to this problem, she was in tears. Imagine how exhausting that must have been for her and her mother!

The physical, emotional, and mental toll on carers can be enormous. Imagine having to wash your father few times a day or changing your mother's bed sheets every night. These individuals are amazing, and they do these tasks because "they must be done."

The Role of Paid Carers

Then, of course, we cannot forget about the paid carers in facilities and those who call on clients in their homes. It is widely acknowledged that these unsung heroes are underpaid and overworked while caring for our most vulnerable citizens.

This isn't just a regular job for most of these people. They build strong friendships with their patients and become like an extended family to them.

We Rise By Lifting Others

Both paid and unpaid groups put the lives of their loved ones and clients first. They are often forgoing simple things like being able to eat a meal uninterrupted or go to the bathroom when they need to. They do so willingly for those entrusted to them, be it for an hour, a day, or an ongoing.

Every year, the Continence Foundation of Australia accepts submissions for Carer of the Year, and an exceptional individual is selected. This award will go to an unpaid carer. You can also nominate a carer that you know on their website.

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