The survey included 1800 carers and found that a third had never accessed respite.
CEO of Carers NSW Elena Katrakis says that prioritising the development of diverse, flexible respite options is a must amid ongoing changes to aged care, disability and carer service systems.
“Our survey confirmed that there simply aren’t enough flexible respite options and people are still unsure of how to access respite,” she explains.
Ms Katrakis adds that for carers accessing respite services, many find it gives them much needed time out from caring, allowing them to focus on their own health and wellbeing, spend time with family members and friends, or pursue education or employment.
“As our disability and aged care systems focus more and more on care recipients, it is getting harder for carers to access the respite they need,” she says.
“Respite needs to be made more accessible to carers rather than having to ring around various departments and being put on a waiting list that you never hear back from.”
KinCare and SummitCare Wallsend are two providers who have acknowledged the need highlighted by Carers NSW and as a result are now offering new and flexible respite to carers in the local area.
Offering what they are calling the country’s first ‘truly flexible’ respite model, KinCare says they are working around carer’s needs and schedules; with Chief Executive Officer Jason Howie saying the new model breaks down the barriers of accessing respite by removing fixed dates and times.
“Carers play a vital role in our communities, yet the majority struggle to find time to care for themselves because respite options are too rigid,” he says.
“If we’re serious about increasing access to respite then it must be flexible and it needs to adapt to the individual.
“Carers come in many different forms and care in different ways, they could be a husband or wife, son or daughter, neighbour or friend – a one size solution does not fit all.”
Mr Howie explains that the new model makes accessing support easy, with no formal referral needed, just a simple phone call to KinCare, who under the new flexible options will have a customer care manager conduct personalised assessments with each carer and care recipient to plan services that best meet their needs and life.
“Services can range from a few hours per week, to take a Zumba class, go for a swim, pamper themselves or simply visit friends, to live-in care that allows the carer to have a longer break, for example over a weekend,” Mr Howie says.
“The new service model will provide the flexibility carers desperately need to take a break from their daily responsibilities – to take time out day or night – to enjoy the everyday life moments that are important to them.
“It is unfortunately common in this sector to find that carers struggle without any real support, and don’t get a much needed break to care for themselves.”
Like KinCare, SummitCare Wallsend Manager Glenn Kirkman says that after talking with carers and their loved ones at monthly social gatherings, he and the team began to see a need and realised many carers wanted the ability to book a holiday or even just have a couple of days off.
“We started Summit Social as a way to engage the local community – especially older people and their carers who want to get out and about – but what we found was there is a real need for people around here to be able to plan ahead with respite care,” Mr Kirkman explains.
“Until now, there has been no flexible respite care service available in the Wallsend and Hunter area and yet there are a huge number of people who are caring for their older parents and relatives.
“It can be so difficult for people who have the responsibility of caring for their elderly mum or dad. They need a break but they often leave it until breaking point rather than planning ahead and saying ‘let’s book mum into respite and book ourselves a holiday in September’.”
The SummitCare team’s flexible respite service is now available with Mr Kirkman and his team also working with local hospitals to ensure their personnel are aware of the service.
For more information on the SummitCare Wallsend respite service, call 02 4944 1500, and to speak to a KinCare customer care manager about flexible respite options, call 1300 733 510.