Caregiver stress arise from the consistent responsibilities of supporting a loved one. Regardless of skill level, ability, safety risk, care needs or medical condition, anyone providing care to others is at risk of experiencing stress, fatigue and burnout.
As a Home Care Package provider, it is essential to assess the risk of ongoing stress and fatigue among caregivers. Excessive exhaustion and burnout can be prevented through collaboration with the Happy Living clinical team for necessary adjustments. When a person is exhausted, they are unable to effectively take care of themselves, let alone provide adequate care to others.
What are the signs of caregiver stress and fatigue?
- Overreacting to minor issues.
- Health problems (such as frequent illnesses).
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Feelings of resentment.
- Reduced engagement in leisure activities.
- Trouble falling asleep.
- Decreased energy or feeling exhausted even after resting.
- Feeling like life revolves solely around caregiving.
- A sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
- Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking or overeating.
- Neglecting family responsibilities.
- Reports from external support staff indicating unmet care needs or an untidy environment.
How to identity risks of caregiver stress and fatigue?
To identify the risks of caregiver stress and fatigue, it is important to consider various factors. These include:
- A complex medical history.
- Changes in health status.
- Caring for older adults with declining health or new diagnoses.
- Minimal support services or funding for care needs.
- Emotional agitation.
- Increased financial difficulties due to caregiving stress.
- External work and family responsibilities.
- Being the primary caregiver for extended families.
- Complex family structures.
- The need to provide end-of-life care.
Common responses to caregiver stress.
Communication plays a vital role in addressing caregiver stress. Maintaining open lines of communication facilitates the caregiving relationship. Sharing concerns with staff ensures you feel supported and allows the care management agency to assess the necessary services and resources. Positive communication can help alleviate current stress, and reassessing the care recipient’s needs can assist in prioritising services provided through the Home Care Package.
Some family caregivers may say comments like:
“You can’t help me, so what’s the point of telling you?”
Firstly, positive communication helps to escape current stress. Sometimes a reassessment of the care recipient can assist in prioritising Home Care Package services.
“There are no funds available in the care recipient’s Home Care Package. Can you still help me?”
We will support family carers as much as we can. Carer Gateway is a resource that can provide additional support for family carers.
“Dad needs rest, but he wants to be at home”
Some seniors may be more reluctant to go to other places to recuperate. Our Home Care Packages can provide extra caring time at home during the day, so you can take a break, or opt for overnight care from support staff.
Everyone needs time to relax, do the things they love and not experience caregiver stress through these tips:
- Eat and sleep well. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day.
- Exercise daily.
- Respite care, even if only one or two hours a week.
- Increase support services to reduce the workload, such as cleaning and gardening.
- Plan carers’ leave in advance.
- Join social events or community groups.
- Communicate regularly with the GP and the Package management agency.
- Contact other government support programs.
About respite care.
Respite care, provided through the Home Care Package, gives carers time to themselves and reduces caregiver stress.
My Aged Care determines the level of your Home Care Package during an initial assessment. It also partly determines the level of respite you receive and ensures your care needs. Make sure you and your family carer understand the different service options to allow us to update your care plan accordingly.
Please note: Consumers may receive up to 63 days of subsidised care in a financial year, including planned and urgent inpatient respite care, and may be extended for 21 days at a time in some cases.
Create an emergency plan.
An emergency plan is a voluntary document that helps unfamiliar individuals understand care needs during distress. It includes:
- Emergency contact.
- Your care needs.
- Medical information and contacts.
- List of medicines and their locations.
- First aid card.
Insufficient perks and upgrades.
Caregiver stress and fatigue may be directly related to inadequate support services and funding.
If you need to increase your care and support services because the level of the Home Care Package is not sufficient to meet your ongoing care needs, apply to My Aged Care for a package upgrade.
Please note: My Aged Care will not consider upgrading your package level if unused funds remain accumulated in your account. When applying for a package upgrade, your care plan must be up to date and reflect all current care needs and risks.
We will communicate with you regularly to ensure you get support and assistance. To help you manage your Package better, our staff will regularly discuss other management models.
What Happy Living can do?
Happy Living assists by providing clinical referrals when high levels of caregiver stress, fatigue and burnout are identified. The clinical monitoring team collaborates with Care Managers to ensure caregivers receive support and advice throughout the aged care journey. Your Care Manager will confirm your stress-related needs with your family. Stress-related needs are documented in the system, and reminders are set up for everyone involved in providing care. We also recommend Carer Gateway, a government support service for carers, when necessary.
For further resources on caregiver fatigue, please visit www.carersaustralia.com.au