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Pandemic adds more stress to carers’ wellbeing

Jul 07 2020

A significant number of unpaid carers in Queensland are still struggling with their mental wellbeing as a result of the pandemic, a new Carers Queensland study has revealed.

In response to the evolving impact of the coronavirus, Carers Queensland completed a total of 1,280 carers wellbeing checks across the State, which included questions related to the pandemic and its effect on their caring role.

Out of the total number of carers, 830 responded to the pandemic questions. Data indicates that 38% of the carers experienced a decrease in service delivery and 39% of them identified a decline in their mental health during this challenging time.

Carers Queensland Chair, Jim Toohey said the wellbeing checks were undertaken between March and May 2020, with the introduction of the new Integrated Carer Support Service (ICSS) taking place from 9 April 2020.

Eleven regional teams conducted the conversations throughout different areas including Brisbane (North and South), Mackay, Wide Bay Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs, Moreton, South Coast, Central, Far North and Northern Queensland.

“The study was designed to connect with carers, complete a wellbeing check, understand their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic and link them to the services that will support their needs”, Mr Toohey said.

“Many carers were really grateful that we had reached out to them during this difficult time. COVID-19 certainly added another level of complexity for carers as they were required to isolate with the person(s) they care for,” he said.

“A reduction in social support and respite opportunities also increased stress levels for a number of carers. We offered them self-care plans to support their own physical and mental wellbeing and where appropriate, carers were referred to other services for additional support.”

The study also showed 24% of carers were home schooling and 52% of those were home schooling children with additional supports needs.

“It was clear from their feedback that balancing the needs of multiple children in the household and/or caring for children with additional support needs was really challenging,” Mr Toohey added.

“Most carers try to stay connected with their community. However, those who identified as socially disconnected or lonely were offered follow up wellbeing checks on a weekly basis,” he said.

“Carers are at the centre of what we do and we will continue to work with them to respond to their unmet needs and improve their quality of life,” he said

Other key findings include:

  • 10% of carers experienced a job loss or reduction in hours
  • 97% of carers had access to transport during this time and many carers had access to their own vehicle
  • 2% used only public transport, 1% community transport, 2% taxi services and 2% were assisted by friends and family
  • 92% of carers use their phone to stay connected
  • 62% of carers were referred to Wellways and/or Carer Gateway for support
  • Staff connected 33% of carers to another service that met their immediate needs
  • 67% of carers welcomed the contact but didn’t require any further assistance.

Read the Carer Wellbeing Report here