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Australia's seniors are being encouraged to share the word on Australia's first online platform offering information and advice to carers who are providing end-of-life care to a partner, family member or friend.
CarerHelp (www.carerhelp.com.au) was launched earlier this year and is gaining significant traction with thousands of Australians visiting the website over the past few months, validating the need for its development.
CarerHelp is a web portal offering an extensive range of advice and support for Australians who have taken on the role of caring for a terminally-ill person.
An Australian first, it is an initiative led by St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne's Centre for Palliative Care in partnership with Flinders University's CareSearch, University of Technology Sydney and Carers Australia, the peak body for unpaid carers in Australia.
More than 15 independent non-profits operating in cancer, heart-disease, dementia and other fields also contributed their knowledge and experience to the CarerHelp initiative.
Professor of Palliative and Supportive Services at Flinders University Jennifer Tieman said that the developers of CarerHelp are keen to leverage the close-knit networks of Australian seniors to help create awareness of the platform.
"Family palliative carers reflect a broad range of demographics, with some being relatively young, but senior Australians are obviously a key target audience," Professor Tieman explained.
"We encourage senior Australians to share the news of this fantastic resource with their friends and especially those who are currently caring for someone.
"It's important to note that CarerHelp is not only for carers who are already deeply invested in providing end-of-life care to a person, but spans the entire journey from considering if you can or should be the individual's carer when the time comes, through the entire palliative care experience and beyond," added Prof. Tieman.
Of the approximately 160,000 Australians who die each year, most need the support of a family carer, particularly those that die at home, which is why the Centre for Palliative Care's Professor Peter Hudson and other project leaders believe CarerHelp meets a very real need.
"For the first time, family carers have access to a comprehensive and dedicated online resource covering all aspects involved in caring for a terminally-ill parent, partner or friend so that they be as prepared as possible also hopefully reflect on the experience as rewarding one," Professor Hudson explained.
"CarerHelp addresses the information needs that carers have told us are important when someone is coming to the end of their life - what to expect as a terminal illness progresses, the practical aspects of caring, how to access community services and the obligatory legal and financial considerations involved in caring, dying and funerals."
The information is available through a library of videos and downloadable information in article, factsheet and checklist format for family carers. It was developed in conjunction with a large group of family carers and community organisations* who shared their knowledge and experiences with the project team.
The website includes a page called Carer Voice which hosts a series of videos featuring carers who reflect on their own real-life experiences, offering insight into all parts of the carer experience from deciding whether you are the right person to provide care, to how to cope with grief and loss.
The project team believes that CarerHelp is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.
"Dying is a reality of life and many of us will be involved in caring for someone we love. We know that many people who are terminally ill can only remain at home because family and friends support them by caring," Professor Tieman added.
"Our goal with CarerHelp is to be a very useful resource for very special people who provide care and comfort to loved ones when they need it the most.
"Carers are vital members of the Australian community and we are so thankful for what they do."
CarerHelp has also received additional funding to expand its reach and empower Australian family carers and support workers, helping them to deliver better care to people with advanced disease. This includes those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, poor literacy and low socioeconomic populations, support workers, volunteers and community leaders.
Former Governor-General of Australia and supporter of CarerHelp Dame Quentin Bryce said that the selfless work of end-of-life carers must be acknowledged.
"People who care for a family member, friend or relative are likely to be unpaid and face many challenges," Dame Bryce said.
"Caring for someone can involve medication management, financial and legal issues, system management and general care and support.
"The CarerHelp website will be a great benefit to our palliative care and health system."
CarerHelp was built by the Australian Family Carer Toolkit Project.
The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
This is advertiser content for CarerHelp.