Informal carers are a significantly disadvantaged group within the population. Informal caregiving usually involves a family member caring for another family member with no financial reimbursement. The role of the informal carer can include providing care for the patient’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial needs, and the level of care varies according to the individual patient. There are about 2.7 million informal, unpaid carers in Australia. The total replacement cost of informal carers, if the Australian government were to pay them for the services, have been estimated to reach $60 billion a year.
The health and wellbeing of carers can be adversely affected by the caring role. It has been shown that carers experience lower quality of life than those who are unemployed or earn less than $15K per annum. Furthermore, almost 50% of all carers suffer moderate depression; an alarming finding considering approximately 6% of the Australian general population are affected by depression. Carers were also found to experience moderate stress, mirroring the trend of poor wellbeing and depression in this vulnerable group. These findings demonstrate that informal carers are at increased risk of poor health and wellbeing in the social and socioeconomic determinants of health.
We are interested in studying the effects of caring in Western Australia. We also want to gain an insight into the experiences of carers in our community. We seek to understand if it is possible to identify carers who are more at risk of developing health problems than others. This could enable timely interventions that may improve the overall health and wellbeing of carers in our community.