While there are around 850,000 carers in New South Wales, there are also many others out there who do not realise they are in fact carers.
During National Carers Week and beyond, we are asked to spare a thought for these selfless heroes who help others.
The Pulse recently spoke to Lise Mulibola, a carer for her mother, who has spent several days in Westmead Hospital with a chest infection.
“Our culture is we have to care for our parents,” Lise told The Pulse.
Lise represents the selfless spirit of carers, of which it is estimated there are more than 2.7 million in Australia – either family or friends, providing 36 million hours of care and support every week.
According to Carers NSW, the replacement value of unpaid care is $1.1 billion per week.
Lise’s cultural background has shaped her commitment to care for her mother rather than seek outside help.
“There’s a good opportunity here (in Australia) to take the parents to aged care, for someone to look after and help the family, but to us we have to care for our parents,” she said.
National Carers Week, from October 14 to 20, recognises and celebrates the outstanding contribution carers make to our nation.
“That’s our first goal, we have to look after our parents,” Lise told The Pulse.
“We have to pay back how they raised us children.
“Our mum and dad didn’t abandon us, and our job is to care for them.”
Lise, herself a mother to four boys, works full time, starting at 5am and finishing at 1.30pm.
Her husband looks after her mum when Lise is at work.
“I don’t have any more leave or sick days, but I don’t care about the money, our parents are worth more than money,” Lise said.
“We still have our responsibility to look after our parents.”
A carer typically provides ongoing help to someone who needs it because of their disability, a long term or life limiting illness, mental illness, dementia or ageing.
Carers in Australia can achieve some measure of respite through accessing local public health care and community health care.
“I feel 120 per cent happy about the (health) system here in Australia,” Lise said.
“It doesn’t worry us when (mum) goes to the hospital – the nurses and doctors do the best to help our people to get better – and thank God for this opportunity and everything here to take care of our sick people, especially our parents.”
People are asked to consider the role of carers, who are a silent workforce within our communities, by respecting carers’ relationships with those they care for, and support their choices, their first-hand knowledge and experience.
This can be achieved by being mindful of carers’ health and wellbeing, listening to carers and the people they care for and respecting and recognising that all carers are different.
During National Carers Week, the Western Sydney Local Health District has been actively engaging the community on behalf of carers.
This has included a Supportive and Palliative Care Community Forum at Blacktown, Carer Surveys at Blacktown Hospital, an afternoon tea for carers at the Mt Druitt palliative care unit, as well as information stalls and other initiatives at Westmead and Auburn hospitals.