Media Release by The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Health professionals and carers working together

The importance of health and community care professionals working with Australia’s 2.6 million carers to develop and deliver treatment plans is being highlighted as part of the Australian Government’s national Care Aware campaign.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Amanda Rishworth, today launched the Health Professionals Initiative, which encourages health professionals to work closely with carers in the treatment of their patients.

“Carers make an extraordinary contribution to the care and support of millions of Australians who need it, and involving them in the treatment of those they care for will lead to better outcomes for both patients and carers,” Ms Rishworth said.

“Involving carers as partners in patient care is often critical to the wellbeing of the patient and to the carer and will help paint a more complete picture for health professionals.

“Health and community care professionals play an essential role in the health and wellbeing of patients, and they have the skills, experience and expert medical knowledge to provide exceptional care.

“But it’s important to remember that carers know their loved ones best, and their unique insights, knowledge and experience are invaluable to the care team, as well as to the person they care for.

“We also know that transitioning care to health professionals can be an emotional and stressful experience for a carer. This is why it’s essential to acknowledge the carer’s ongoing role and involve them as much as possible.”

“The Health Professionals Initiative includes some tips for health professionals to help build stronger relationships with carers and ensure the needs of both the carer and the patient are being looked after,” Ms Rishworth said.

“These include consulting the carer on the design and delivery of treatment plans and being open to suggestions and ideas, considering the needs and preferences of the carer as well as the person being cared for, and maintaining clear and honest communication.

“Caring for someone can be incredibly rewarding. We also know it can involve immense sacrifices, which is why general practitioners and front-line healthcare staff are also being encouraged to recognise the warning signs of poor physical, mental and emotional health.

“Carers may be frail or aged themselves, or may be suffering from grief or depression if their loved one has experienced a rapid deterioration.

“Health professionals can support carers to maintain their own health and wellbeing by understanding and recognising the impacts of caring on individuals and family relationships, and by keeping informed of services, supports and resources that may be helpful.”

Ms Rishworth said “I’m proud to be part of a Gillard Labor Government that has provided more than $1.6 million to fund the Care Aware campaign.”

The campaign is an initiative under the Australian Government’s $60 million National Carer Strategy, a 10-year reform plan which takes a national approach to better respond to the needs of carers, so that carers have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians.