Carers: The Unsung Heroes

8 September 2022

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There are over 2.65 million carers across Australia, who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who may be frail aged, have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, or an alcohol or other drug issue. Carers come from all walks of life, they can be parents, partners, friends, or children, who are caring for someone close to them - some find themselves taking on the role unexpectedly, and some often don’t even see themselves as carers.

Many of our clients at the Neurological Council WA, are supported and cared for by a devoted and dedicated spouse, family member, or friend - the ‘unsung heroes’ who go above and beyond to ensure their loved one is getting the assistance, support, and care that they require to live their best life with the condition, illness and challenges that they are facing.

Kym Heine, Clinical Nurse Manager at the Neurological Council WA, has worked closely with many of our client’s carers for decades, and is aware of the significant amount of time and energy that goes into the role.

“Carers give so much in their day-to-day lives to ensure the safety and health of those they care for, and while many carers will say that the role is very rewarding, it should also be acknowledged that carers can face significant physical and mental challenges due to the demands of their role, such as poorer health and wellbeing, or carer burn out”.

The key is to find balance, which is not easy, especially if you are juggling a whole range of other duties, responsibilities, or in some cases personal health issues, in addition to caring for a loved one.

Often, carers may find it difficult to arrange personal things for themselves, such as attending appointments, as the demands of the role leave little time for anything else. Without the right tools and information, this can have a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing. Carers need to be aware that they are not alone and that there are a range of services that can assist in order to manage the day-to-day workload effectively and minimise the risk of falling through the cracks and get further and further behind.

Kym’s 8 tips to support carers:

Access Respite Care - Being a carer impacts you both physically and emotionally, so it’s important to regularly take time for yourself to rest and recharge. Respite care is when someone else takes care of the person you care for, so that you can have a break to do everyday activities, deal with stress and look after yourself. You can access respite care for a few hours, or days, depending on your needs, eligibility, and what services are available in your local area. Don’t wait to feel completely burned out, make regular respite care bookings. This may be hard at first, but it will help you continue in your caring role.

Put your own health first - By taking time to care for yourself you will ensure you have the reserves to continue your role as a carer. Don’t ever put off medical check-ups.

Look after your mental health - Monitor your own feelings, watch out for signs of depression and have a chat to your family, friends or your GP if you feel that you are not coping. Try to understand what will make your life easier. Understanding what you need to do in your role and making a plan for where you can introduce some help, can make your life easier. Make list and talk through that list with a support agency, a family member or friend who may be able to assist. And don’t ever be afraid to ask for help - If friends and family are offering, be sure to accept!
It can often help to speak to other carers that may be going through a similar situation, so you can share stories and solutions to problems. You can find support groups online, on social media or via services such as Carers WA.

Look after your physical health - Physical injuries, such as back injuries, are a common concern for carers, if you need to lift the person you care for, such as from a chair to a bed. To make sure you’re lifting in the correct way it is wise to have an assessment from a health care worker, physiotherapist or community nurse who can help you find the safest way to manage and will also be able to recommend aids that can assist with lifting.
There may also be small changes you can make to the layout of a home to make it safer and more comfortable and to help the person you care for move around. For example, arranging furniture to give plenty of room to walk around and keep the space uncluttered and removing loose rugs that may be trip hazards.

Put all important documents in one place - Create one location for all the information regarding you loved one, including medical information and history, legal documents such as their Will, enduring powers of attorney or guardianship, Advanced Health Directive and the like.

Plan for emergencies - Emergencies can happen anytime. By developing an emergency care plan, you will have alternative arrangements for the person you care for if you become ill or have an accident and are not available. This will enable you to cope and feel organised if things go wrong.
If you are caring for someone with limited mobility, emergency care kits are available with contact cards and information to help you if there is an emergency where you need to evacuate. Ask your local fire authority for advice about how to evacuate and install smoke detectors.

Reach out to support services

  • The Carer Gateway - Emotional, practical, and financial support for family carers, providing a mix of free online, telephone and in-person supports, services and advice. Phone: 1800 422 737 or visit the Carer Gateway website
  • Carers WA for local advice and access to assistance. Phone: 1300 227 377 or visit
  • Have a chat with your GP

Be kind to yourself! Being a carers can be one of the most difficult roles in anyone’s life so don’t forget to give yourself credit for doing the best you can - You are doing an amazing job!

Neurological Council Carers Week Events

Download the Carers Week Events Poster

During National Carers Week the Neurological Council is inviting carers of people living with a neurological condition or disease, and those they care for, to attend a Carers Morning Tea & Information Session happening at our four office locations across the state:

  • Bunbury: Wednesday 19 October
  • Geraldton: Wednesday 19 October
  • Albany: Thursday 20 October
  • Perth: Friday 21 October

For more information and bookings, visit or phone: 6457 7355 or email

National Carers Week runs from 16 - 22 October and is an initiative from Carers Australia to recognise and celebrate carers across the country. To find out more visit:

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