Merryn’s opinion piece on the challenges family carers face when providing care for relatives and friends at the end of life was published yesterday by Newsroom.co.nz. Read the entire article.
- Being able to die at home surrounded by loved ones requires the help of ‘an unpaid and largely invisible workforce – ie family members.
- Most caregivers are women and men are more likely to have a willing family carer when required.
- Increasingly, families are taking on caregiving tasks traditionally carried out by paid and extensively trained health professionals.
- The effects of being a ‘family carer’ are very significant. Research shows half of all family members in this role experience anxiety or depression.
- It is important to acknowledge that caregiving can have positive effects. It can promote social connectedness and feelings of self-worth and satisfaction which contribute to wellbeing and even increased longevity.
- At a policy level, there needs to be a fundamental shift in how family caregiving is conceptualised. Caregivers need to be seen explicitly as part of the palliative care workforce, requiring appropriate education, training and support.