A carer is an unpaid person who helps somebody who is struggling with their physical or mental health with their daily activities. A carer has no specific official training for that purpose, but yet dedicates his or her time to help friends and relatives in need of special care – such as alcohol addicts, mentally disabled people, people with a severe health condition.
There are 235,000 young carers in Australia. A young carer is a carer within 12-25 years of age.
Issues Young Carers Face
Carers, especially young carers, sometimes get emotionally disturbed and are faced with severe stress and problems.
Young carers experience higher stress than non-carers. The demands of their duty are sometimes beyond their capacity and this overburdens them. Young careers suffer psychological depression and anxiety from the nature of their duty.
People caring for people with dementia suffer from depression much more than non-carers. This can cause them to experience constant mood disorders.
Young carers tend to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. High blood pressure hardens the arteries of the heart and also over-labours the heart in pumping blood.
Young carers experience lesser sleep and this affects their cognitive capacity negatively. It also makes them more prone to obesity, and strokes. Young carers often appear tired and worn out.
Young carers tend to appear unnecessarily aggressive and overwhelmed. They might become lonely and alienated from society. They get irritated and annoyed by even the littlest of things. They get unnecessarily paranoid and full of pessimism.
Young carers are prone to having deficient immune systems, and are thereby susceptible to diseases such as kidney problems. They get sad for no tangible reason.
Some defects of carers are peculiar to the nature of the care receiver. For example, young carers of Alzheimer’s disease are liable to have a short memory span. Young carers also get tired easily and hopeless.
Young carers feel uncertain about the future of the loved ones they’re caring for. They also experience financial distress. They mostly have no viable source of income and this is a huge disadvantage to their living standards.
They also get burnt out, and get mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausted. Young carers suffer from guilt thinking they’re not caring enough for their loved ones.
They sometimes expect that their care would quickly recuperate the care receiver, and when this is not achieved within the period of their expectation, they tend to experience frustration.
Young Carer Programs
As a result of these various stress and problems of young carers, government, corporate bodies, and individuals have created and facilitated several young carers program to care for the peculiar situation and needs of young carers.
Even though carers render service, aid, care for others, they too need to be cared for.
It’s important to do so, at least the 235,000 Australian young carers cannot be left with no care. Some of these programs will be considered here.
As noted earlier, young carers experience financial distress. In response to this problem, the Young Carer Bursary Program was established as an initiative to financially empower young carers and salvage them from financial distress.
It’s open to all young carers in Australia. Yearly, 1000 bursaries of $3000 are disbursed to young carers within the age of 12-25 years. At least, the recipient must be a high school student.
The recipients of the Young Carer Bursary are decided by the assessment of six experts. The 2023 Bursary will be opened from July 19, 2022, to September 13, 2022.
Also, any young carer who needs counseling can contact a professional counselor on any day of the week within the hours of 8 am to 6 pm by dialing the number 1800422737 and selecting the option of speaking with a Counselor.
Alternatively, the young carer can also enter https://counselling.carergateway.gov.au/s/ into his or her browsing tab and make a ‘ Request for a Call back’. A call will be put across to the carer within one working day.
This arrangement is to cater for the emotional needs of young carers. The Counselor will advise the young carer on how to overcome whatever his or her challenges might be.
Also, a young carer in urgent need of therapy and seriously distressed can apply for ‘Urgent help’ on https://counselling.carergateway.gov.au/s/ Alternatively, the carer can place a call across to 1300 224 636 or 1300 789 978 to seek therapy. This is a fast and seamless arrangement to see that young carers in need of therapy can easily get one.
There is also the Young Carer Network which is a national resource organization that facilitates awareness about the problems of young carers, creating possible solutions to these problems.
The Young Carer Network also creates support for young carers. It creates an avenue for young carers to meet and share their burdens.
Similarly, there are Young Carer programs facilitated by State governments. In Victoria, for example, there is a support arrangement for young carers who are still students. A young carer who needs a tutor, help at home, or taking some break can contact the Carer Gateway for support.
There is an award program in Victoria for the young carer who are secondary school students. These young persons are appreciated for their contributions to helping their relatives or friend.
No less than $500 is awarded each year to successful applicants. This is to encourage and appreciate these young carers.
In the same vein, there are young carer programs facilitated by individual organizations and bodies. The St Nicholas Young Carer Program is an example of this. It attends to the recreational demands of young persons within the age of 9-17 years.
During school holidays, young carers are taken to recreational camps and made to have a nice fun-filled time. The program is made to relieve young carers of their tough home circumstances. This program helps to stabilize the emotional demands of young carers.
As rehashed so far, young carers need to be cared for too, and should not be left with no care for their psychological and emotional problems. It’s only when a carer is physically, mentally, and psychologically fit that he or she can be a better carer.