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Four ways to support an unpaid carer

If you know someone who’s a carer, here are some ideas for supporting them.

Those who care for others – often due to a person’s disability, age or illness – are special people. They often put their loved ones first, and it’s important that sometimes the tables are turned.

If there’s a person in your life who takes care of someone else, now is a good time to give them your support.

Tell them you see them

A little acknowledgement can go a long way for someone who puts others first. This National Carers Week, you can take the opportunity to let a carer in your life know that you see what they’re doing and offer to support them.

“It’s important to acknowledge that the person doing the caring might need some time out,” says Melissa Simcoe, Program Manager at Australian Unity. “There are opportunities for family and friends to take over the role for a short period or take some of the responsibility at times.”

Have the conversation

Everyone needs help and support in different ways. You can’t always assume you know what kind of help they might need and appreciate, and it’s not always best to give help without permission.

What you can do is have a chat to your friend or family member who’s a carer, to find out what they need support with.

“Sit down and have a chat with them, to find out how they’re feeling,” Melissa suggests. “A carer might be struggling with mental health issues of their own, so it’s a good idea to approach this conversation carefully and gently.”

Call the experts for advice

If you want to provide support to a carer in your life but you’re not sure of the best way to go about it, call your state’s carers’ organisation and ask for advice on what’s the best step to take.

Do some research

There are small things you can offer to help with, from cooking a meal to taking the person out or even doing a seemingly small task to help out.

“If the person doing the caring is struggling with the day to day things, they may not have the energy or capacity to reach out to support organisations or do research on what services are available,” Melissa says.

“If you’re the friend, family member or neighbour of a person who cares for someone, you could offer to help with some research or share what you know about available services.” Australian Unity’s home and disability services are a great place to start.

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