Unpaid carers often neglect their own needs as they dedicate hour upon hour to caring for their loved one/s in need.
This is why LINK Community & Transport (LINK), a Victorian not-for-profit organisation providing specialised support for carers, has launched their innovative ‘Thank you for Caring’ initiative – with support from the Victorian State Government’s Support for Carers Program.
Across April and May, the initiative will see vouchers provided to carers in metro Melbourne, Victorian growth corridors and select regional areas, which can be redeemable for support services by LINK.
These vouchers, which are framed as a “thank you” gift from care recipients, will entitle eligible unpaid carers to receive some well-earned help and time off – through social outings, help from flexible carers, advice on support options, and, where necessary, counselling support.
Dr Danny Davis, LINK managing director, tells Aged Care News that the ‘thank you for caring’ message was shaped in response to the overwhelming resistance carers show to supportive measures such as respite.
“It’s our experience that a lot of the respite options are very institutionalised… and make people kind of confront their own failure.
“’Are you failing?’ ‘Do you need respite?’ It’s just the language of it, so we’ve kind of tried to turn that around.
“We’ve designed a special set of premium outings to choose from that will help make these people feel special and reconnected to the world.
“And, we have professional social workers and trained volunteers on most trips who get an opportunity to check in with clients in an informal setting … then we’ve got them in the system.
“We can communicate with them; we can keep in touch with them; we can identify who is in need of more help and hopefully help them over the longer term.”
Having the ability to make contract with these carers and offer to refer them to a range of added supports is what Davis says will be most impactful.
“Carers don’t have time to even discover that there are options, so we’re really trying to work with people, engage with them, and understand them,” he says.
Whilst the initiative will entice recognised carers to seek greater support, Davis notes he hopes that the initiative will target a number of “hidden carers” in the community.
“For many unpaid carers, their roles remain behind the scenes, passionately and diligently supporting older, disabled or unwell Victorians so they can live well at home – and stay connected to services and community… Many of them don’t even recognise themselves as carers – they are just looking after the people they love.”
Davis says that this new program is a step forward in supporting all parts of community who are involved in delivering and receiving care in an integrated way.
“It is a better way of building and nurturing care in community, wellbeing at home, and care for individuals that keeps them out of institutional care, and the care of the state.
“At LINK, we pride ourselves on embracing a people-focused approach in our programs… our commitment at LINK is intimate and thorough, ensuring that clients and carers are living their best lives.”
‘Thank you for Caring’ packs will be given to hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies to hand on to their patients who are receiving care.
About LINK Community and Transport
LINK is a Victorian not-for-profit community based social enterprise which links older Australians or Australians living with disabilities and their carers with a variety of supportive services relating to transport, health systems, social and community engagement.
Supporting the diversity of Australians, services are offered in over 25 languages.
Click here to find out more or call 1300 546 528.