Carers provide invaluable, ongoing unpaid support to people who need it because of their disability, chronic illness, mental ill-health, dementia or frail age.
Programs to support carers’ social and emotional wellbeing are framed by the context of shifting policies and support service arrangements for carers, people with disability and older people in Australia. The key recent policy changes include the introduction of the Integrated Carer Support Service (ICSS), the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and My Aged Care.
Social and emotional needs and wellbeing: Social and emotional wellbeing is closely related to the concept of mental health and requires that social, emotional and psychological needs are able to be met and that distress resulting from unmet needs in other domains is minimised (e.g. physical, informational, practical and spiritual needs).
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, social and emotional wellbeing refers to a broader concept with seven overlapping domains including: body, mind and emotions, family and kin community, culture, country and spirituality and ancestors.
A range of outcome measures are used to assess carers’ social and emotional needs and wellbeing, including general population measures for mental health, psychological wellbeing, coping, resilience and quality of life, as well as carer specific measures of needs, satisfaction, burden and stress.
Changes that occur with the onset of, and during, a caring role due to illness, disability or ageing can impact on carers’ social and emotional wellbeing. While carers report positive aspects of caring, such as companionship, fulfilment, enjoyment and satisfaction, there is also strong evidence of the negative effects on emotional and psychological health, such as depression, anxiety, burden, anger, resentment, worry, sleep interruptions and suicidal thoughts. Caring can also lead to social isolation, loneliness, loss of social relationships and lack of support, and the experience of stigma. The impact of caring can increase over time and have greater effects for specific groups of carers.
SOURCE: Trish Hill and Timothy Broady. “Understanding the Social and Emotional Needs of Carers.” Australian Institute of Family Studies, January 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia