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Carers significantly reduce the ever-increasing strain on Australia’s health and community care systems. We therefore support and celebrate the enormous contribution carers make to society. The Benevolent Society provides support to young carers as well as carers of people with dementia, disability, mental health, frailty, chronic illness and children and young people with a severe and profound disability.
Young carers are students up to and including 18 years of age, who are a major provider of care and support for a parent, relative or friend with a chronic illness, disability, mental illness, alcohol or other substance dependence, or who is frail aged.
Caring is exhausting and can take its toll on a person’s health. Understandably, carers can become physically tired and are often at risk of poor health and wellbeing. There is often an even bigger impact on their emotional and mental health. Young carers often have difficulty identifying themselves as carers.
There had been frequent reports of feelings of isolation and/or alienation, hyper vigilance and high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Their education also suffers as they struggle with frequent absences, completing homework, learning and concentration difficulties, apparent maturity, financial difficulties and experiences of being bullied at school.
Young carers often have no time for themselves. This impacts on their social development and can make it hard for them to form and maintain friendships and take part in social, cultural and leisure activities.
Caring for someone can be very rewarding, but it can take its toll. It is important for carers to take a break and have some time for themselves and to recharge their batteries. The Benevolent Society provides a suite of respite services to make things just that little bit easier. It’s more than just saying thank you – we believe that we have an obligation to support carers to ensure they are not bearing the burden of care all alone.
Respite services include short-term and emergency respite, Consumer Directed Respite Care, overnight respite cottage, and carer retreats. We also offer workshops that give carers of people with Dementia and Mental health the opportunity to network and socialise. Education sessions assist participants with coping strategies to manage the stress, grief and loss that can come with being a carer.
For young carers, we offer respite and education support services. We organise school holiday activities and social groups during the school terms, to provide young carers with an opportunity to socialise and network with other young people in a similar situation.
Sometimes respite is just about having fun and giving young carers a chance to laugh and forget about the drudgery of day-to-day caring. The Benevolent Society successfully ran a Family Fun Day where financially and socially disadvantaged carers and their families were provided with some pampering activities.
“Full-time carers need a break to be able to function,” says Lyubov Rimer, Manager of South East Sydney Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre. “It gives them relief from what can be a very challenging and stressful life.” Carers need to be supported to sustain their caring role.