Caring for someone at home can mean helping out with a variety of day-to-day activities including, bathing, dressing, feeding, managing medications and/or providing transport. You may also take on responsibilities such as banking, shopping and paying the bills. Another important role is to provide emotional support as well as being someone they can talk with.
If you're caring for someone at home, there are a number of services to help and support you in your caring role. There are also things that you can do to make your home safer and more comfortable for the person you care for.
There may be small changes you can make to the way a home is laid out to help the person you care for move around. You may want to consider:
- arranging furniture to give plenty of room to walk around freely and keeping the environment uncluttered
- removing loose rugs and sealing carpet edges that may be trip hazards.
If the person you care for needs to be lifted, such as from a chair to a bed, then this can be a complex task. Back injuries are a common concern for carers. To make sure you're lifting in the correct way:
- ask the health care workers you normally deal with to arrange an assessment of your circumstances
- ask an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or community nurse to help you work out the safest way to lift or transfer the person you care for. Also ask about aids to assist with lifting.
You may also want to consider:
- developing an emergency care plan to assist you to provide alternative care arrangements for the person you care for if you suddenly become ill or have an accident. Emergency Care Kits are available with emergency contact cards and information to help you. It is particularly important to have a plan in place if the person you care for has limited mobility this will assist you should there be a situation such as a fire or other emergency where you need to evacuate quickly. Ask your local fire authority for advice about installing smoke detectors and evacuation techniques.
What services can help?
Some of the services available to support you in your caring role may include:
- counselling, support, information and advocacy
- respite care, which allows you to take a break or get to your appointments or activities while the person you care for is looked after at home, in a community centre or in an aged care home.
If the person you're caring for is not currently accessing aged care services, you may wish to consider whether they may benefit from some help at home. A broad range of services may be provided, including:
- home maintenance and modifications including repairs, garden maintenance and installation of things such as hand rails and ramps
- goods and equipment including providing items such as a walking frames or a raised toilet seat
- meals including delivery of meals or help with food preparation in the person's own home
- nursing care including clinical treatments such as wound or catheter care, or help managing medications
- domestic help including general housework such as cleaning, dishwashing, clothes washing and ironing
- transport including transport provided by volunteers, as well as vouchers and subsidies for taxis
- allied health including occupational therapy (help to recover, or maintain your physical ability) and physiotherapy (exercises, mobility, strength and balance). Physiotherapists can also help with techniques for safe lifting
- Independent Living Centres which have products and equipment to help manage disabilities in daily life.