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.