Being a carer is a big job and it can take an emotional, mental and physical toll on you no matter how much you love the person you care for.
Caring for a person who needs support with everyday life can be tough and sometimes carers need more support
The Carer Gateway is a support platform for unpaid carers
It can provide counselling, skills courses, information and advice for carers
The stress of caring for a person with disability or a medical condition can affect your health and wellbeing, social networks, work and lifestyle – also impacting your financial situation.
But there are places you can go for help when caring becomes too much and you just need a little more support, or a break, so that you can go back to caring at your full potential.
The Carer Gateway
The Government facilitates the Carer Gateway service to support all carers of a person with a medical condition, a disability or a mental illness, or a person who is frail because of their age.
The service can be used by any carer at any time – you don’t have to have recently started caring for someone to access it.
There are different Carer Gateway services providers in different parts of Australia which can connect you to any local supports which will be beneficial.They are:
ACT: Carers ACT
New South Wales: The Benevolent Society (for North, East and West Sydney), Wellways Australia (for South West Sydney, and the Nepean and Blue Mountains), Live Better (for South East NSW, the Murrumbidgee region, and Western NSW), and Carers NSW (for Hunter, New England, Central Coast, and North Coast regions)
Northern Territory: Carers NT
Queensland: Wellways Australia
South Australia: Carers SA
Victoria: Merri Health
Western Australia: Carers WA
You can visit the Carer Gateway website or call the phone line on 1800 422 737, which will put you through to the service provider in your area.
If you are from a culturally and linguistically diverse background (CALD) and English is not your first language, then you can contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS), on 13 14 50.
If you have issues with reading the website you can click on the ‘listen’ button at the top of the Carer Gateway pages.
If you have an impairment that affects your ability to hear, see or speak, then visit the Department of Infrastructure website to find the right National Relay Service option for you.
Through the Carer Gateway you can access counselling for free to help with feelings of stress, anxiety, negativity or depression and any other feeling which you are having difficulty coping with.
For counselling call 1800 422 737 between 8am and 6pm on weekdays.
You can also fill out an online form to request for the service to call you.
You don’t need a referral to use the carer counselling services and more information can be found on the website.
Taking a break from caring can help both you and the person you care for, as you each get to spend time away from each other and it can refresh your relationship.
Through the Carer Gateway service providers you can find respite options ranging from a few hours to a few days, no matter what the needs of the person you care for are.
They can also help you to understand whether you can access respite care through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or My Aged Care.
Respite care tends to be organised based on what services are available in your area, when the next opening is or if you need a specific time, what care the older person requires, and if the respite is needed urgently.
Booking respite care ahead of time can be really smart as sometimes respite can be booked out in your area.
If you need emergency respite you can call 1800 422 737 at any time on any day.
Coaching and courses
If you’re looking for practical tips and learning to improve the care you provide or your own health and wellbeing the Carer Gateway has free courses and coaching.
The online Carer Skills courses can be completed in your own time, taking about 20 to 40 minutes each.
The online self guided coaching course can help you to identify how your caring role impacts your life and what steps you might be able to take to improve the situation of yourself and your loved one.
In person coaching is also available through the Carer Gateway service providers for similar reflection and to work towards goals for changes in your life.
Information and advice
The Carer Gateway website includes a wealth of information which you might be looking for, from topics like speaking up for the person you care for and working while caring, to looking after your own health and wellbeing or planning for emergencies.
This includes what payments are available for carers to help with the costs of caring, and the Carer Directed Support service, which provides once off support, for example to purchase educational items or undergo a training course, or long term supports, like respite, cleaning or shopping assistance.
There is also easy access to concession schemes, including tax and super concessions, State or Territory specific carer concessions, and cheaper travel and events information.
Service providers can also link you to other professionals.
For example, you may need to arrange to become the guardian of the person you care for so that you can arrange dental treatment for them.
Your Gateway service provider can help by finding a legal service nearby which you can use to set up the guardianship, while you continue to focus on providing care.
One of the most important aspects which the Carer Gateway facilitates is the online Community Forum.
This is a platform linked to the Carer Gateway website which carers can read, post questions and respond to, filled with a network of other carers from around Australia.
It can help you to feel like you’re not alone and to get advice from other people with lived experience who may have been in a similar situation to you.
Have you accessed support as a carer? Tell us what helped you in the comments below.