National Carers Week, 16-22 October
October 16-22 is National Carers Week – a chance to thank those who care for the 23,000+ people living with MS in Australia.
A recent Deloitte report estimates annual unpaid informal care in this country at $60.3 billion hours!
Caring for someone with a chronic illness like MS can be deeply satisfying but also physically and emotionally exhausting.
The number of people living with MS with carers increases with symptom severity. A 2012 study showed that those with severe symptoms were around twice and six times more likely to have a carer, compared to moderate and mild groups respectively. The carer was most often (around 80%) a spouse or partner, but as we know, can also be a parent, friend or even a child.
That 40% of carers of people with severe symptoms changed employment concerns us. Faced with other inevitable lifestyle changes, it’s of interest that carers who continue activities or hobbies tend to thrive.
The carer role
As the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolls out, carers are even more critical. To put this in context, people with MS living with a disability and their carers want useful information and advice, and together must navigate the scheme’s planning process.
Recent Federal Government changes that may impact carers are also of concern. This is why MSA supports the work of Carers Australia including their submission re the removal of backdating both the government’s Carer Allowance, and Energy Supplement to new social security and family assistance payment recipients.
We also support Carers Australia’s advocacy work around the government’s new Try, Test and Learn Fund – which explores interventions to help those at risk of dependence on income support, including young carers, break the cycle. Like Carers Australia, we agree that the fund shouldn’t replace lower vital income support for carers and those they care for, while the trial is underway and before any benefits result.
Practical support and information
The State and Territory MS organisations provide excellent carer information, such as living with MS, symptom-management, primary carer training, carer camps, in-home and residential respite, how to access equipment, benefits and services, and agency referrals.
For state and territory links, select the MSA website ‘Support and Services’ tab:
The Federal Government Carer Gateway portal has information, resources and links to local support services:
Show your support during National Carers Week (16-22 October)
Join MS Australia and send a “thank you” message to unpaid carers via the Carers Australia website: