Carer Peer Support Groups

embrace the caregiving tip of fostering relationships

A Place to be Heard and Understood

“It’s not like a complaints room where you can sit down and whine and moan. It’s just so that we can have a chat about how things are going. I think when you talk about things, it helps to relieve you of that stress and anxiety. You know you are being heard and not judged,” Colleen Magor explained.

72-year-old Colleen is an unpaid carer who looks after her elderly and unwell husband in Eastwood, a suburb of Adelaide. She is talking about the Carer Peer Support group she attends.

Colleen’s husband Brian is 81 and lives with chronic pain from arthritis. “He’s had two hip replacements. He is quite full of arthritis through his back, knees, ankles. He is in a lot of pain but won’t take any medication because he says it makes him feel sick,” she says.

Colleen does everything for Brian. She helps him get dressed, makes the meals and does all the cleaning and all the daily living acticvities. She has been his full-time carer for more than 10 years. Colleen says it does get wearing at times and she doesn’t get much time to herself.

Enter Carer Gateway

Colleen briefly joined an art group around the corner from her house. That’s where she found a pamphlet for Carer Gateway and a Carer Peer Support group in her area.

The Federal Government’s Carer Gateway provides support services for unpaid carers including in person and online peer support.

“I went along and found that it was quite helpful,” says Colleen. “Sometimes when you go to these groups you see other people and what they’re going through, and it puts your life into perspective. You don’t sit around thinking woe is me. It’s more of a case of saying my life isn’t too bad and I can cope.”

One of the biggest issues for Colleen was the fact Brian wouldn’t shower regularly. It was her Carer Peer Support group that allowed her to make peace with this.

“I have learnt that is OK for him not to have a shower from the group. I just had to learn to step back and say it is OK if he doesn’t have a shower, the world won’t end,” she says.

Carer Peer Support Group

Support When you Most Need it

Colleen had a stroke in March this year, and while she is slowly getting better, she is still using a walking stick to get around. The stroke has made her realise she needs more help, for both of them. “I got very stressed as I didn’t know what would happen if something happened to me. Who would look after Brian? And what do you do when you have two of you that aren’t too well?” she asks.

Since then, she has arranged to get Meals on Wheels delivered three times a week. Brian now goes to a Men’s Shed every Monday which gives her a few hours to herself. “I’m trying at the moment to get myself involved in some yoga classes because every day is pretty much Brian day. A break would be good.”

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  1. Amazing, you say a Carer can obtain support via Carers Gateway. They refer you to a Service Provider who say that they have only limited funds because funding for support for Carers has been cut by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. Also the Providers are unable to run programs because their staff are stretched to the limit providing support and care to the ones needing the Care. NOT THE CARER!!!! So where can a Carer go to get a bit of “me time” while their loved one is with their support worker.
    A Carer needs to learn that time out is very important so that they can re-connect with their own needs by being able to share experiences and knowledge with fellow carers; they need to be able to achieve wellbeing through the use of therapeutic and creative arts in a mindful way; to learn simple and effective stressment management and practical strategies that they can use at home to help them in their caring role; to understand that it is NOT SELFISH to take time for self-care; and they need to be able to connect and share with others in similar circumstances, breaking isolation and enhancing emotional support.
    Where can a Carer go to find this kind of support?

  2. Care partners of people living with dementia, particularly young onset dementia need and prefer peer specific support grousp. I have raised this issue with Carers WA over the past fews years to no avail. Consequently we have set up our own carer peer support group that meets monthly. We are fortunate to have a venue for free with adequate onsite parking and kitchen facilities. Also, a dementia educator has kindly volunteered her time to facilitate the group. Sadly, not one of the peak bodies is willing to do this for us despite the millions of dollars of funding they receive from the federal govt. It’s a travesty.

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In Need of Support?

Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.

Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.

1800 422 737 

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