Family carers are expected to continue to play a key role in supporting older Australians as more older people choose to age at home.
Survey results published in Bolton Clarke’s Ageing Well Report last month show respondents overwhelmingly ranked older people themselves (41.8 per cent) and families (40 per cent) as most responsible for direct care.
The youngest three groups of respondents were most likely to rank families as most responsible for care, while those aged 55+ were more likely to say individuals are responsible for their own needs.
In contrast, less than 5 per cent of respondents said friends and neighbours should be most responsible for care.
This week is National Carers Week, celebrating the contribution of unpaid carers, with the 2023 Carer Wellbeing Survey showing this group continues to be at high risk of poor wellbeing and health, including from social isolation.
Bolton Clarke’s Connect Local program in Glen Eira, Victoria, is among new approaches to addressing wellbeing and social connection for older residents including carers.
Participant John Gibson said after the death of his wife, for whom he was the primary carer, he began going days without speaking to anybody or leaving his home.
“I just didn’t have a clue what to do,” John says. “I was going days without speaking to anyone, I couldn’t even be bothered going out to look at the garden and didn’t go outside for three months.
“Then I picked up the Glen Eira News and just happened to see a bit at the bottom of the page that said something about Connect Local, so I thought I’d fill the form in online and see what happens.
“I was surprised the next day I got a phone call and in less than a week, the team had me fixed up at the community house and the men’s shed.
“After my visit to the community house and the men’s shed, the Connect Local lady rang me to find out if I enjoyed it, if I’m still interested or whether there was anything else that I wanted to do.
“She always followed up which was a good thing because I could have dropped off quite easily in the beginning.
For John, the program has given him the opportunity to meet new people and fill his calendar with activities he enjoys.
Since contacting Connect Local in March, John has found a renewed interest in life and is now dabbling in his lifelong hobbies such as gardening.
“It’s been an extension of all the things that I used to do – I used to do a lot of gardening before and have taken that back up again doing bonsai trees and things like that.
“There are a lot of people who are like me where there was only the two of us, my wife and I, and although we had children, they live too far away so really it was just the two of us.
“We did everything together so when one of us went, the other one was completely lost.”
Connect Local was co-designed with local residents and aims to go beyond medical models of health care, promoting community health and wellbeing by tackling social isolation and loneliness and linking older residents with community groups through trained connectors.
About Bolton Clarke
With RSL Care (Queensland) and the Royal District Nursing Service (Victoria) at the heart of its DNA, Bolton Clarke has been caring for Australians since 1885 and is today Australia’s largest independent, not-for-profit aged care provider.