Anyone can become a carer. Carers come from all walks of life, cultural backgrounds and age groups. They may be spouses, parents, sons or daughters, siblings, friends, nieces or nephews, or neighbours.
Across NSW there are 857,200 carers, that is 12 per cent of the NSW population. There are 2.7 million carers Australia-wide. (Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2012)
People become carers in different ways.
Sometimes it happens gradually - helping out more and more as a person's health and independence deteriorates over time. It may also happen very suddenly, after a health crisis (like a stroke or heart attack) or an accident.
It's not uncommon for carers to feel that they don't have any choice in their caring role. Even in large families the responsibility of providing care often falls to one person rather than being shared. In other situations, there may be only one person to take on the caring role.
Many carers feel that caring is what they should do.
Every situation is different.
Some carers provide 24 hour nursing to a family member with high care needs. They help with daily needs and activities like feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, lifting and moving and administering medications.
Other carers support people who are fairly independent, but may need someone to keep an eye on them, or help them with tasks like banking, transport, shopping and housework.
Most carers give comfort, encouragement and reassurance to the person they care for, oversee their health and wellbeing, monitor their safety and help them stay as independent as possible. Carers help the person they care for to have a good quality of life.
Often the extent of the support provided by carers isn't obvious to those around them. Even family and friends can underestimate the amount of time and energy spent caring, particularly when the kinds of assistance given aren't physical.
The word 'carer' can be confusing. Many carers don't use this word to describe themselves, and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether we are the right organisation to help you.
We can help if you provide unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependencies, chronic condition, terminal illness, or who is frail.
Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.