The continuing challenges that we face in the wake of a new world, has seen our way of life completely altered.
As we gradually adjust to change, the need for an integrative approach to health and wellbeing continues to grow stronger, and communities have been called to work together.
The Coronavirus pandemic forced more responsibilities onto everyone, especially for carers who were required to isolate with the person they care for, and experienced a reduction in social support and respite opportunities.
In response to this, Carers Queensland undertook a total of 1,280 carers wellbeing checks across Queensland, offering caring families an opportunity to connect with their local community and get the support they needed.
Data gathered through the wellbeing checks showed that 39 percent of carers had experienced a decline in their mental health, 24 percent of carers were home schooling and 52 percent of those were home schooling children with additional supports needs.
Thanks to a grant from the State Government, Carers Queensland was able to implement online health and wellbeing sessions for carers during this trying time.
These sessions marked the beginning of Carers Queensland’s new Carer Program, which is also funded by the Queensland Government, through the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.
The Carer Program is grounded in Carers Queensland’s longstanding commitment to making life better for carers, people with disability and their families.
It provides support and assistance to carers throughout Queensland and focuses on carer consultation and improving their health and wellbeing.
Carer Program Manager, Sarah Bone says the program brings a positive shift in the lives of carers by giving them a voice and providing a comprehensive and structured approach to their own mental and physical wellness.
“Carers have experienced unprecedented challenges. There have been changes in the sector with the introduction of the new Integrated Carer Support Service (ICSS) and many carers are still confused and unclear about who to connect to,” she said.
“Caring is often a very isolating experience and we want carers to be able to connect with their local communities and other carers across the State,” she said.
“We want to give carers the tools to put their well being at the center of their lives, help them thrive through change and face each day with a fresh perspective,” she added.
The Carer Program includes other Carers Queensland programs and services such as:
Guardianship and Advocacy Program – assists carers who are experiencing difficulties in their role of caring for an adult with reduced decision making capacity.
NILS Program – interest free loans offered to eligible carers on low incomes.
Empower Care Program – a fee-for-service program designed to support caring families on the journey through aged care so they can stay in control of their future.
It’s All About Me program – a free program that supports young carers to build social and emotional skills to help turn challenging
experiences into an opportunity for growth. The program is delivered in the Capricorn region and also available in Brisbane schools.
At the same time, the Carer Program covers a number of elements including:
Establishment of regional Carer Advisory Groups
Facilitation of regional Carer Conversations
Expansion of It’s All About Me program to Brisbane region – Young Carer Program (5-12 years)
Carer Health and Well-Being Program
With the introduction of this new program, carers across Queensland can expect a wide range of opportunities to have their say on local issues and concerns, while building those much needed strong social connections.
Recently, as part of the carer consultation, Carers Queensland reached out to carers asking them about activities, events and topics that will be relevant to the work they do and can best support them in their caring role.
To date, over 250 carers had completed the online survey providing valuable information that will be used to inform our health and well being activities.
“Part of our carer consultation involves developing a calendar of events driven by carers, which will include a variety of activities such as carer retreats and health and well-being sessions,” Sarah said.
“With Carer Health and Well Being program specifically, we want to provide opportunities for carers to connect, develop their knowledge and skills, and have some much needed time to focus on themselves.”
“We are also establishing Carer Advisory Groups to provide carer input on key community issues and ensure that we are delivering carer focussed services and experiences within our new program,” she added.
“The new program includes the facilitation of carer capacity building sessions and unaccredited training for carers, delivered face to face and via online platforms.”
“We will also be hosting our Carer Conversations across the State, a great space for all carers to raise local issues, service gaps and input into policy submissions,” she said.