Carers are generally happy with the standard of aged care support provided to the people in their care, but a national survey indicates that both aged care providers and the aged  care system need to do more to address their needs.

Elena Katrakis

The 2020 National Carer Survey Report released by Carers NSW canvassed responses from almost 8,000 carers across the nation.

Of those, 2,477 said they were caring for someone using aged care services and 2,615 were looking after an NDIS participant.

Both NDIS and aged care services were less likely to meet the needs of carers than the people they were  caring for.

Needs of carers not taken into account

Most people caring for someone using aged care services said the person they were caring for was receiving a home care package or support via CHSP.

Most carers said the aged care services met all the needs of the person in their care as well as their own expectations off quality and safety. However, only 46 per cent said the same services were meeting their needs as a carer.

Only 37 per cent said they had been asked about their own needs when accessing care with or on behalf of the person they were caring for.

“While aged care services are generally providing quality, appropriate services to older people, those services are not necessarily taking into account carers’ needs, and greater flexibility and carer-inclusiveness is required,” the report says.

2020 National Carer Survey Report

The report said the findings indicate that a reasonably large proportion of carers are resourced and supported to access the aged care services they need.

But “a significant minority” needed more information and support in accessing services.

One in four carers (24 per cent) said they had not been provided with all the information they needed and 28 per cent said it wasn’t easy to organise aged care services.

However most said there were indirect benefits of the care, with 58 per cent saying it meant they could take a break or keep their job.

Carers were also asked challenges when seeking to access aged care services. Nationally the five most common issues reported were:

 • There was a long waiting period to access services (30.4 per cent)

• It was difficult to find information about what services were available and how to access them (26.8 per cent)

• It took too much time and energy to organise services (22.5 per cent)

• There was a long waiting period to get assessed (21.1 per cent)

• The person being cared for did not want to use services (21.0 per cent)

Carers of NDIS participants commonly reported difficulty accessing services, long waiting periods and lack of funding in NDIS plans.

Demand set to increase

The survey shows ther are more than 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia, who will provide nearly 2.2 billion hours of care in 2020 at an estimated value to the economy of $1.5 billion a week.

Across the board, common experiences included psychological distress, isolation and difficulty getting information about services and support for the person they cared for.

Carers NSW CEO Elena Katrakis said COVID had made life more difficult for carers.

“Carers of a family member or friend are facing unprecedented challenges during COVID-19 but are also showing great resilience,” Ms Katrakis said.

The demand for unpaid carers was currently at an all time high and was set to increase in the future, she said.

Carers can contact Carer Gateway on 1800 422 73, to speak to trained worker in their local area and help find services and support.

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