Supporting our carers

Supporting the needs of unpaid carers of persons at the end of life is an integral part of holistic palliative care. But what are the best practices in supporting them? We look at the latest evidence and resources available to support carers.

The need to support carers

There are more than 2.7 million carers in Australia, which means about 1 in 8 people in Australia are carers.

The definition for carer (under the Australian Government Carer Recognition Act 2010) is someone who gives care and support to a relative or friend who:

  • has disability
  • has a mental health problem
  • has a medical problem (including an ongoing problem or an illness that will end in death)
  • is frail because they are old (known as ‘frail aged’).

Carers can be a family member, friend, or neighbour and are invaluable in providing quality care for persons needing support. For persons at end of life, carers are integral in enabling them to maintain quality of life.

Over 160, 000 people die each year and most of these deaths would be expected. When someone is coming to the end of their life, families and carers undertake a large share of the responsibility for providing care.

There is still uncertainty about the most effective forms of interventions to enable and support carers to continue to care. However, improving awareness and understanding of palliative care and its benefits will help communities to care for the carers who often find it difficult to maintain their own health and social wellbeing, including in bereavement.


Caring for someone who is dying can be very difficult. Relationships can change significantly, and the caring role can become much more intense at this end of the caring journey.

This can also be a time to make new memories or to say and do important things. Even in hard times, there can be moments of joy. Relationships may change, but this can also mean that they get stronger or more intimate.

CareSearch is working with St Vincent’s, Carers Australia and UTS on the Australian Family Carer Toolkit Project. The project is building the website CarerHelp. CarerHelp will launch on Thursday 17th October during National Carers Week.


CareSearch has many resources for, and about, caring. We support individual patients, carers and families; health professionals; educators and researchers; and policymakers by:

  • Providing access to the latest evidence and trustworthy resources about carers and caring
  • Adding to the carer evidence base by supporting research and projects relating to carers
  • Partnering with other organisations undertaking carer projects
  • Identifying resources and learning materials for carers
  • Promoting the role of carers in supporting people living with a life limiting illness

To help you find out more, click on the links and resources below.

    Last updated 24 August 2021