An app for that provides an “Ikea manual” for managing medication, an ecotherapy program, a study of the impact of the NDIS on rural carers and a project targeting siblings in indigenous families are among a group of innovative NSW-based initiatives designed to make life easier for carers.

The programs, all of which are recipients of a $5.6 million state grants program, were discussed at the NSW Carers conference in Sydney last week.

The department of family and community services last September invited tenders for the  Carer Investment Program, designed to support organisations that provide creative and collaborative support to carers of people with disability, mental illness, chronic or terminal illness, dementia or frail age.

Manager of carers at FACS, Helen McFarlane, told the conference 128 tenders were received. Fourteen  projects run by 12 organisations were successful and funding began on July 1.

Recipients will be required to report back on the outcome of their projects at the end of the three-year funding period, with data to be collected for further research.

“We’ve asked all our projects to collect core consistent data about the carers they’re working with including well being measures, demographic data, whether they are working with NDIS carers,” she said.

“Over the next three years we’ll be sharing information about the progress and outcomes of these projects. We’re expecting that some of these will some really good outcomes.”

Measuring the impact of the NDIS

Terry Robb
Terry Robb

A research project measuring the impact of the NDIS on rural and regional carers will be carried by the non-profit organisation Mid Coast Communities in conjunction with Southern Cross University.

Executive manager service delivery and quality Terry Robb told the conference it would involve collecting the stories of 70 carers and collating their personal experiences of the new disability environment.

“In the context of the NDIS rolling out we want to look at how do carers feel, how are they faring in terms of well being, inclusion, employment,” he said.

“We’re also interested in carers’ feedback on the new environment and their ability to influence decisions that affect them and the people they care for.”

The research would hopefully inform policy and practice, he said.

To participate in the survey, contact Professor John Hurley at

Supporting indigenous siblings

Linda Humphries
Linda Humphries and a young SIBS participant

A family and siblings support program program run by Wollongong Catholic Care in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven will aim to overcome the barriers to accessing support that exist among many indigenous communities as a result of cultural perceptions about disability.

The Deadly SIBS program will work with the existing SIBS initiative, which has run since 2008 and is a social support group for children who have a brother or sister with a disability or a chronic illness, to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The SIBS program offers a range of activities including workshops, clubs, social activities, outings, camps and retreats.

Deadly SIBS coordinator Linda Humphries said an indigenous identified position was a part of the program, and would identify families in need.

“This really focuses on further developing relationships with key stakeholders in the community, listening to what the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities identify as carer needs and respectfully engaging with them in environments where they feel safe,” she said.

Managing medicines

A smart phone medication app would make medication management easier for carers, Kishen Kaurah of the NPS MedicineWise Carers Project said.

The MedicineWise  app was released two years ago and is currently used by around 110,000 people around Australia.

“What we realised was that about 30 per cent of the people were carers,” Kaurah said, adding the funding would allow it to include information specifically targeting carers.

The app provides information after scanning the barcode of any Australian medicine. It also provides targeted health messages, links and can be used to set medication reminders remotely.

“They tell me stop saying this, but it’s like an Ikea instruction on how to take your medicine,” he says.

Hitting the ‘green gym’

Carers aged 15 to 80 can register for the Green Gym project administered by NSW/ACT Volunteers Australia.

State manager Leonie Winner told the conference the “ecotherapy” project allows volunteers to engage in activities like planting trees, collecting seeds, weeding, building tracks, conducting bird surveys and carrying out citizen science.

She says the program, to be based in western Sydney and the far north coast would help carers by given them a sense of doing something good, fostering a sense of community and providing an escape from daily caring activities.

“It’s about connecting carers to nature and their peers,” Winner said.

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