In the last week of March, the FCVic special projects team ran two forums for older carers – the first at Cranbourne Library, the second at the Springvale Community Hub. The forums were held as part of Standing Strong, a partnership between FCVic, Alfred Health Carer Services and Southern Migrant and Refugee Services, which aims to ease older carers’ stress by raising awareness of their rights and supports.
The purpose of each session was to collect information and insight, and to hear from older carers themselves about the sort of financial stress they experience.
The forums were run by members of the special projects team – Dr Suzy Goldsmith, Julia Monsbrough and Bella Walker – and organised by the inimitable Mel Keenan. They were attended by a total of 13 carers, who had 139 years of caring experience between them. All those in attendance were wise and insightful, and incredibly generous in sharing their time and experiences with us.
While their individual circumstances were diverse – some attendees had been caring for over 40 years, while others for 2 or 3 – the financial pressures experienced by the attending carers were often universal. Both groups spoke of the huge expense of dentistry and allied health practitioners – for themselves and the person they care for – and the limitations of Medicare. Many carers also noted the financial burden of transport, including the cost of parking at a hospital, and the cost of daily travel to and from hospitals and other medical care. Some attendees also spoke of their anxiety about the future, having used much of their superannuation and feeling unsure what to do next, while others expressed concern about the cost of aged care.
Much of what the attending carers shared will shape the resources we’re now developing as part of the Standing Strong project. These ‘quick guides’ will provide clear and accessible information about a range of financial topics and services – and each will be accompanied by a short video (which will be translated into a number of languages). In conjunction, we’re working closely with our partner organisations to upskill their staff so that they’re able to use these resources when working with individual clients – building on the rapport and trust they have established over many years.
We hugely appreciate their time and candour of the carers who attended each forum, and thank them for their invaluable contributions.
For more information about Standing Strong, including resources that may be relevant to older carers you are working with, please visit https://fcvic.org.au/standing-strong/.