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Information about the implementation of the Strategy will be published on this page regularly, so please come back to find out what FACS and our partners have been doing for carers. Links to our latest news.

2017 Progress report

Introduction

This summary reports on progress under the Strategy in 2016-17 and outlines key directions for future implementation of the Strategy. It highlights and profiles 4 key projects that are making practical differences to the lives of carers in NSW. We continue to implement all projects in the strategy. The progress of these will be reported in future reports.

Since the 2016 Progress Report we have made significant progress towards improved support for carers and increased recognition of the awareness of the important contributions carers make to society. In recognition of the importance of support for carers to enable them to maintain their capacity to care, Strategy implementation has focused on improving access to timely and relevant information and access to supports that will improve employment, education, health and wellbeing outcomes for carers.

Since the Strategy launched in 2014 there have been significant developments in the aged care, mental health and disability legislative contexts and service systems. This includes the review of the Carers (Recognition Act) 2010, ongoing rollout of the NDIS across NSW, reform of the aged care system and ongoing development by the Commonwealth Government of the Carer Gateway and the proposed Integrated Carer Support Service. These reforms impact on carers. Implementation of the Strategy occurs in the broader context of these changes to policy and legislation that affect carers.

The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) review of the Carers (Recognition Act) 2010 in 2016 highlighted the need to provide clearer information to carers about available complaints mechanisms for carers, and clearer information to public sector agencies about the Act and Charter and about their compliance and reporting requirements. FACS will be implementing the recommendations of the Act review in the final two years of implementation of the Strategy.

The 2017 Carers Strategy Progress Report builds on the 2016 progress report. This report includes the following highlight projects::

  • 2.1 Easier Access to Health Care
  • 3.4 Information for Carers in Aboriginal Communities
  • 4.1 Partners in care (Health Care)
  • 5.1 Improving the Evidence Base- including highlight carer data

Initiatives complementing the Carers Strategy - including the Carer Investment Program and the implementation of the Carers (Recognition) Act following its review.

Highlight Project 2.1 Easier Access to Health Care

Lead Agency

NSW Health

Project Description

This project was developed in response to the identified need to make it easier for carers to access existing health services and programs. The project brings together a number of different NSW Health initiatives and services with strategies to increase accessibility and support improved health and wellbeing outcomes for carers.

This is especially through promoting carers uptake of the Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service and the Stepping On falls prevention program.

Progress and key achievements:

An information sheet about the needs of carers was developed and distributed to all coaches at the Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service. This enables coaches to better engage with carers who have enquiries or register to participate in the program.

One carer’s experience

I joined the Get Healthy Service after experiencing a significant loss in my life and my circumstances were suddenly very different. I mainly wanted to be healthier and if I lost some weight in the process that was a bonus.

The regular coaching sessions really helped me gain a better understanding about my relationship with food. I’ve introduced a lot more vegetables into our family’s diet and I now realise that our portion sizes were far bigger than they should be. I have also acquired a step counter and now take the stairs instead of the lift and walk more than I used to.

While I was actively caring I always placed my needs last, I was tired most of the time and ate meals for comfort and food that was easily available. My fridge and pantry was always stocked with “treats” because my home had a constant stream of visitors and I convinced myself that all of the food I was buying was for others when in fact I ate most of it.

My Get Healthy Coach really understood my circumstances. We talked about the obstacles that could stop me sticking to my plan and worked out ways to manage these obstacles. I would highly recommend this Service for anyone who would like to become healthy or even just gain a better understanding about their food and exercise habits. When I had a slip up, I was honest with my coach and we would discuss what had occurred and work out a plan and ideas that would help me to stick with it next time. I also recall one time when I was so upset and my coach was so supportive and kind to me. I very much appreciate her kindness and understanding.

I completed the program and found the support so useful that I have re-enrolled to continue to achieve my goals. I have lost a few kilograms and several centimetres from my waist. My clothes fit me much better now and I feel so much more confident when shopping to try on styles which I would not have been able to previously. I have less aches and pains and am much more flexible and have more energy.

In 2016-17, there were 423 Stepping On programs delivered in NSW and 4,678 adults over the age of 65 years completed the program

Stepping On:

  • A brochure specifically targeting carers was developed for the Stepping On program. It promotes what the program is about, who can join, when the program is held, the personal benefits, and also provides facts about falls.
  • Details for a local Stepping On program contact can be included on the brochure for carers to find out more and register. In 2016-17, there were 423 Stepping On programs delivered in NSW and 4,678 adults over the age of 65 years completed the program, meaning they attended at least 5 out of the 7 sessions.
  • Each year across Local Health Districts, Specialty Networks, Pillars, Ministry branches, and other health organisations a wide range of initiatives are provided to raise awareness about carers and to respond to their needs. These may include delivering educational events and training tools, preparing and circulating resources, including the views and needs of carers in service planning, ensuring human resource policies and guidelines reflect a carer friendly working environment and promoting National Carers Week annually.
  • For example, during 2016-2017 carers were involved in different stages of consultation and design of hospital redevelopments service planning, including at:
    • Westmead Hospital –carers were consulted on Stage 1 co-design for single rooms that incorporate a Carer Zone.
    • Nepean Hospital – carers provided input to the Front of House Unit Functional Design Brief
    • Bulli Hospital – carers were included in a working group and consultation for the proposed Aged Care hospital.
    • Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals – carers provided input on the Visiting Hours policy which was implemented in May 2016, and as a result, general visiting hours for carers have been extended.

Highlight Project 3.4: Information for Carers in Aboriginal Communities

Project Description

This project aims to develop and promote culturally appropriate resources to Aboriginal carers to assist carers in Aboriginal communities to plan ahead and involve other family members in providing care. Specifically through this stage of the project, Aboriginal people will be supported to document and share key information about a person’s care needs.

Progress and key achievements:

  • In consultation with the Carers Strategy Aboriginal working group (convened by FACS), Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre Aboriginal Corporation developed four Emergency templates to document key information about a person’s care needs including their health and medical needs, emergency and respite contacts. The templates have been designed to allow the information to be easily shared with others including family members and service organisations providing care.
  • Yarkuwa staff supported local carers in Deniliquin to complete their chosen template/s and update the information as needed. Through this pilot process, Yarkuwa staff identified the need to provide a range of options ranging from a basic template to a more detailed option.
  • The final template options reflect the feedback of local carers who highlighted the need to provide a range of options that can be suited to individual carer needs, and to ensure the templates were basic, easy to complete and to understand.
  • The emergency plans come in a variety of formats including a printed care plan, USB bracelet and fold out wallet card. It is proposed that these will be piloted more broadly in Aboriginal communities.

Highlight Project 4.1: Partners in care (Health Care)

Lead Agency

NSW Health

Project Description

This project aims to improve the ways carers are involved as partners in health care delivered to the people they care for.

Progress and key achievements:

Progress on improvements to carer identification:

  • Since 2015, NSW Health’s State Forms Management Committee, Local Health Districts and eHealth NSW have been working together to include mandatory questions to identify if a patient is a carer or has a carer at registration.
  • The project aims to ensure that carer information prints onto NSW Health inpatient, outpatient and Emergency Department documents and is available for use by NSW Health clinicians. Self-identification of the carer as a Person to Contact will foster action by NSW Health staff to include the carer as a partner in the health care team.
  • The proposed changes recognise that partnering with patients and their carers provides better outcomes for the patient and that the patient, carer, staff and public healthcare system benefit from involving carers as a partner in the planning, delivery and review of care.

Highlight Project 5.1 Improving the Evidence Base

Lead Agency

Department of Family and Community Services

Project Description

This project was developed in response to the identified need to bring together available evidence about carers to inform the long term development of policy and programs affecting them. The project aims to consolidate evidence on Carers Strategy focus areas and identify ways it can inform policy and practice.

Progress and key achievements:

Building the carer evidence base involves building new data sets and identifying and highlighting existing data by making it available and accessible to those involved in developing policies and programs. In the last 12 months, this includes:

  • In 2016 the Public Service Commission’s People Matter Employee Survey included a demographic question about caring. The aim is to use this data to better understand public sector employees who also have caring responsibilities.
  • Recommendation 2 of the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 review was that ‘FACS makes arrangements with human service agencies to collate and publish their reports on compliance with the Act (as included in their annual reports). FACS will then provide an annual collated report to the Minister. The first collated annual report will be provided to the Minister for Disability Services in 2018. This will help to establish a benchmark for future reporting and assist in monitoring change over time in NSW government carer related policy and practice.
  • The biennial Carers NSW Carer Survey is the leading survey on carers’ support needs and caring experiences anywhere in Australia. Since the commencement of the Carers Strategy in 2014, the response rate has increased from approximately 1600 in 2014 to over 2000 in 2016. More information about the survey is available at www.carersnsw.org.au/research/survey.
  • In March 2017, the first edition of the new International Journal of Care and Caring included a commissioned article ‘Co-design of a carers strategy for New South Wales: Reflections on a new approach to collaborative policy making for carers’.

Insights from the existing carer evidence base

  • The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Longitudinal Study of Australian Children 2016 Annual Statistical Report included a chapter on young carers. The research found that young carers have significantly lower performance in both Reading and Numeracy in NAPLAN at year 9 compared to their classroom peers. The full chapter of the report is available from the AIFS website.
  • FACS has commenced discussions about this research with the Department of Education including the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation.

Data from other Carers Strategy projects

Project 3.1 Media Campaigns to raise the profile of carers

  • Carers Week events are an ongoing feature of broader carer awareness objective campaign. Since the Strategy commenced in 2014 there has been steady growth in the number and reach of Carers Week events and people attending events in NSW.
  • 370 events were held in 2014, attracting around 8,300 people. 436 events were held in 2016 attracting 13,500 people (including 9000 carers).
  • 535 carers week events were held across NSW in 2017. This year Carers Week program attracted a higher number of the harder to reach carer groups, including male and Aboriginal carer groups.

Project 3.3 Young Carer mobile application

  • Through Who Cares? the young carer app project, 3 animations have been developed based on real stories of young carers including Leanne who shares her story about caring for her brother Charlie who lives with autism and Noah who shares his story about caring for his mum who has a terminal illness.
  • The animations use the stories and words of young carers themselves, aim to be relatable to other young people with caring responsibilities so they can be aware of and can access available support.
  • The animations have been viewed on social media 17,347 times since their release. These animations are available on the FACS and Carers NSW Young Carer YouTube channels.

Project 1.2 Recognising carers’ skills

  • Since the beginning of April 2017, the SkillsLink2Work website designed to help carers use the skills, knowledge and experience developed through their unpaid caring role to gain paid employment, has been visited 2,827 times and 500 users have completed 707 sessions.

Initiatives for carers complementing the Carers Strategy

Carers Investment Program

FACS is reinvesting existing carer grant funding in line with the Strategy focus areas.

The Carers Investment Program (CIP) will see $5.6 million (over three years) directed to projects that propose new solutions under the 5 focus areas of the Strategy, or support the delivery or evaluation of existing projects in the Strategy.

  • Stage one of the CIP tender attracted 128 applications from 103 organisations across all Strategy focus areas including projects targeted at priority carer groups such as Aboriginal and CALD carers.
  • Funding for successful projects will commence in 2018/19.

Implementation of the Carers (Recognition) Act and recommendations of the 2016 statutory review:

  • The Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 formally acknowledges the significant role and contributions of carers to the community and underpins the NSW Government’s commitment to recognising and supporting carers.
  • In 2016 the NSW Government conducted a statutory review of the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 in consultation with over 800 people and 50 organisations. The final report was tabled in parliament on 8 November 2016. Three of the ten recommendations made in the report proposed minor legislative amendments, which were subsequently made and assented on 1 June 2017.
  • The amendments included a revision of the NSW Carers Charter to more clearly communicate core messages about recognising and valuing carers, changed wording in the Act to encourage agencies to consult with carers and/or bodies representing carers, and the appointment of an independent chair of the NSW Carers Advisory Council.
  • To date over 8,000 posters of the revised Carers Charter have been distributed. The Charter has been translated into seven community languages.
  • The recommendations from the review of the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 continue to be implemented. Progress will be published here.
  • Minister Ajaka and Commonwealth Assistant Minister Prentice launch the SkillsLink2Work interactive website for carers looking for work.
  • Find out about the Who Cares? Young carer app.
  • Videos: Carers talk about their life as a carer.
  • Young carer video on our Young Carers page.

And don’t forget to see what’s new at our carer community awareness website, Care for a Carer.

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