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What to Do When You Are the Carer and You Need Care

What to Do When You Are the Carer and You Need Care

As you age, you might find yourself not only caring for yourself but an ageing loved one too, such as your spouse or older sister. If this is your situation, then you’re truly amazing.


Although you probably manage really well day to day, there may come a time where you’re the one that needs care. This scenario brings about so many factors to consider when you’re also caring for somebody else. Having a plan in place for potential future changes brings a sense of calm to both you and your loved one.

elderly lady rubbing elderly lady's shoulders

Support for Carers

Support for carers is so important when you consider how vital carers are to Australia’s health care system. If you’re a carer, your health and wellbeing matters. Also remember that your ability to continue in your caring role is dependent on your health status.

There may be a tendency to ignore your needs when you’re the carer, especially if you fall ill or require surgery. But early planning will mean that your needs aren’t neglected because you’ll have systems in place to manage such issues.

Considerations for the future 

It’s important to start planning for the future, in case you urgently need time away from caring. This could include potential emergencies and changes in events due to health. By planning, you’re ensuring the best possible care for the person that you care for. This will give you peace of mind, and the person that you’re caring for, as well as other friends and family too.

woman writing in notebook

Emergency Planning

Make an emergency plan, and an emergency folder, so that it’s a straight forward process for those who’ll take over from you.

In the folder, consider including the following:

  • The emergency care plan
  • The daily routine including any regular appointments d
  • A list of current medications and allergies
  • A list of current health conditions
  • Emergency contact list
  • Details of carer (you)
  • Details of the person requiring care
  • Next of Kin/ Emergency contacts
  • Family members such as children
  • General Practitioner
  • Other involved health professionals
  • Current aged care support services that are in place (e.g. domestic support, transport services, Podiatry, etc.)
  • Legal documents (e.g. Wills, Enduring Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Directive)

The Australian government provides emergency care plans upon request. Also consider keeping a carer emergency card with you, in case something happens to you and there’s an emergency.

Leaving a copy of the emergency plan and folder with a family member and G.P. could come in handy in the case of an emergency. Also keep a copy of the emergency plan and folder in an obvious place at home. This could be on the coffee table, or on top of the refrigerator.

Including others in the emergency plan

Be sure to include others in the emergency plan. Talk to family and friends about what you can put into place in the case of an emergency or unexpected event.

If there are no support people you might have to consider other options such as appointing a legal guardian and/ or administrator. If so, early planning has great importance. First and foremost, seek legal advice and contact your state for laws and processes for guardianships.

If you need further assistance, the Carer Gateway contains useful information for carers.

What to do if you didn’t make a plan and you’re in hospital

Life creeps up on us and for many carers, they find themselves in hospital at some stage and realise that they’ve never put an emergency plan into place.

You might have made an immediate plan such as getting your neighbour to look after your loved one. Alternatively they could have a place in emergency respite. But what next?

Please let the health professionals at the hospital know that you’re the carer for someone else. Then ensure that they arrange for a social worker or discharge planner to come and speak with you.

It’s possible that your circumstances will change, and that you’ll need extra assistance when you go back home. Social workers and discharge planners will help you to arrange any additional aged care support services prior to your discharge.

At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to let people know your concerns.

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