Many people understand that many people living with MS have a wonderful team of support crew helping them on their journey. This can be a family, friend, neighbour, partner, child or another significant person.
Some people think of themselves as carers, others don’t identify with that term. Providing this care and support can be for a partner, family member or friend living with MS can be incredibly meaningful and rewarding.
However, it can also be challenging at times and impact on a carer’s ability to achieve their own goals and live well.
One of our member organisations, MS Plus wanted to partner with the people who do this day in and day out to understand how they can help.
With the help of more than 250 people involved in the research, MS Plus has developed a Carers Strategy to guide them in delivering a program based on what people said they needed.
They found the most common barriers to living well for carers identified in the research included (in order of prevalence):
- lack of time for themselves
- less time and energy to maintain a social life
- the impact on their mental wellbeing (e.g., feeling isolated or burnt out)
- viewing caring as their duty/role
- the physical nature of the caring role and their own physical wellbeing
- the changed relationship with the person they care for
- lack of support to allow them to maintain their own career and interests
- lack of finances.
Based on this feedback, MS Plus has identified six key focus areas for support. Focus areas include
- information on support services and MS-specific education
- an understanding person to talk to
- respite, outings and retreats
- financial assistance and employment support
- advocacy and support for navigating the service system
- access to programs that support mental health and wellbeing.
Several key projects and initiatives have been created under each of these key focus areas, to assist MS Plus in delivering the strategy in the coming months and years.
The Carers Strategy was launched in time for National Carers Week, Sunday 16 October to Saturday 22 October, which recognises, celebrates, and raises community awareness about the diversity of Australia’s 2.65 million carers and their caring roles.
To read the MS Plus Carers Strategy and find out more about the MS Plus Carers Program, click here.