How and why to organise support services

Why you should consider using support services.

Most people find that support services can be of great benefit when caring for a family member or friend. Support services can: 

  • Help to maintain the independence, health and wellbeing of the person you care for;
  • Help you to maintain your own health and wellbeing;
  • Decrease the pressure and stress you may feel at times, by ensuring you have time for social and other activities;
  • Complement or supplement the help that family or friends offer;
  • Allow you to spend quality time with the person you care for;
  • Help you to keep on caring.
Using support services can be difficult at first 

Despite the benefits of using support services, people are often reluctant to start using them. This may be because you:

  • Don't know what services are available or how to access them;
  • Fear being seen as 'failing your duty or obligation';
  • Want to protect the dignity of the person you care for;
  • Don't know how to raise the issue with the person you care for;
  • Are respecting the wishes of the person you care for, who is reluctant to accept support services.

Using support services is not a sign of failure. Rather, it can help to maintain or improve the quality of life of the person you care for - it can also help you to continue caring.

How to get started with support services
  • Find out which services are available in your area;
  • Ask family members or friends whether they could help with some tasks on a regular basis;
  • Talk to the person you care for about the benefits of receiving help from services and family members. Negotiate if you need to;
  • Refer yourself or the person you care for to the services you choose. A worker may then visit you to complete an assessment;
  • Know that there may be a waiting list - don't be put off by this;
  • If your situation changes or becomes more urgent, notify the support service - they may give your situation a higher priority.

Some people find that the person they care for remains unwilling to use support services. As long as this person has the capacity to make decisions for themselves (talk to their GP if unsure) they have the right to make this choice - even if there are some risks involved.

However, as a carer, you also have the right to choose whether or not you can continue to provide regular assistance. Being a carer involves giving consideration to your own needs and commitments, too.

How to get the most out of using support services

People who have used support services give the following advice:

  • Be honest and upfront about your needs. Don't be afraid to ask;
  • Supplement the services you receive with regular assistance from family members or friends if possible;
  • Find out what is within the boundaries of the worker's role, then you know what to expect and what you can ask for;
  • The workers can be a wealth of information. Get helpful 'tips' on how other people use services to manage care at home;
  • If the needs of the person you care for seem complex contact the Aged Care Assessment Service for specialist advice at no cost.

 

For further information contact: 

Read our fact sheet titled, Aged Care Assessment and contact: 

The Department of Veterans' Affairs - ph: 133 254. Information on support services for veterans and their carers.

Organisations that provide condition-specific information and support - e.g. Alzheimer's Australia or the Cancer Council. Don't expect one service provider to know everything. Keep asking until you get the answers you need.