Family Carers save the government an estimated $9 million annually.
In NZ, individual families care for larger numbers of the chronically sick and disabled people than all hospitals, residential homes and domiciliary services put together.
A statistics NZ survey carried out in 2001 suggests that only 4% of people with disabilities are in residential care – the remaining 96% live in households.
There are 3/4 million Carers in NZ – that’s 1 in 5 of the population.
There are over 30,000 Carers in the Christchurch area.
Who Are Our Carers
Our Carers are people who are caring for a loved one who, because of sickness, frailty or disability, cannot manage everyday living without help or support. That may be a child, teenager, partner, sibling, elderly parent, or even a friend or neighbour.
Our Carers include both males and females.
The age of our Carers ranges from teenagers to 92 years old. 25% of our Carers are over 70 years old with their own health problems and should really be Carers themselves now, but are still busy caring for their loved one/s.
Caring may be for 1-2 hours per week or 24 hours per day. 63% of our Carers care for more than 50 hours per week.
25% of our Carers care for more than one person.
Often caring is constant and for an indefinite period of time with no end in sight. 74% of our Carers have been caring for five or more years and 33% for 10 years or more.
The Carer and the Caree do not necessarily live in the same house. Caring does not stop if the Caree moves into residential care. More often than not there are three generations living in one house.
One can become a Carer overnight without the time to adjust to the situation or to organise their lives accordingly. Often they have to sacrifice a job or career to dedicate themselves to the task. Usually there is little or no training for the task which can become overwhelming. Even if the tansition to caring is gradual, grief for the changes in their own life and for the loss of faculties of the caree is wearing.
It’s not surprising that many carers feel burnt out, and many suffer ill health themselves. 49% claim that their health is worse than other people of the same age. 60% of our carers claim caring to be extremely stressful. Ongoing fatigue and other stress related health problems are common. Often financial pressure adds to the stress.
Most carers come to us in crisis and are referred to us by other NGOs, hospital Social Workers or their GPs. Multiple crises are common in the role of caring.
Caring for Carers also supports Graduate Carers i.e. those carers whose caree is now deceased. This is a time of great need as the carer had probably put their emotions and life on hold while involved in full time caring and only now has the time to consider their own needs, emotions, the cost of caring and their future life without the caree who gave meaning and purpose in their lives for so long – it leaves a huge void.
Benefits of Caring
The benefits of caring include:
enriched relationship with caree through closeness and companionship
to make a positive difference in the life of another and ease their suffering and help them retain their independence
purpose and meaning in life
satisfaction and fulfilment of the role of carer
Costs of Caring
The personal cost of caring can include:
more physical work
less personal freedom and leisure
loss of friendships and support networks – social isolation
more stress – coping with challenges, worry over financial and legal issues, concern about quality of paid services
more fear – of what will happen in the future and what will happen in a crisis, or if they themselves get so ill they can no longer care
having to search for information and battle for services and money available
accommodation and lifestyle choices
financial concerns – less carer opportunities, less financial security and support, long term financial concerns. Along with the cost of caree’s medical care, meals and clothing.