Infections that last

August 2009

Professional

Impact of home based long term care on informal carers

Volume 38, No.8, August 2009 Pages 618-620

Geetha Ranmuthugala

Binod Nepal

Laurie Brown

Richard Percival

Background

Well coordinated and integrated home based care is an efficient and cost effective model for providing long term care. There is, however, emerging evidence to suggest that family members pay a price for taking on long term care responsibilities at home.

Objective/s

This article draws on published literature to provide an overview of the health, economic, and social issues faced by informal carers. The objective is to contribute to the knowledge base of clinicians about the impact of chronic disease and disability on families taking on the care responsibility in a home environment, thereby informing the delivery of best practice.

Discussion

In 2006, there were approximately 632 694 primary carers aged 15 years or more in Australia. These carers collectively have the lowest level of wellbeing scored by any group, and compared to the general population have a significantly higher level of depression, were more likely to experience physical pain, and more likely to experience financial stress. Failure by clinicians to recognise the burden on informal carers may result in long term adverse outcomes for this group that may outweigh the benefits of managing people with disability and chronic illness in the community.

As providers of health care to the frail, elderly and the sick, clinicians need to be aware of the issues faced by families affected by chronic disease and disability. Well coordinated and integrated home based care has been recognised to be an efficient and cost effective model for providing long term care.1,2 While caring for a loved one in the home environment can be a rewarding experience, this model places heavy reliance on family members to coordinate, provide and ensure access to required care. It is now becoming evident that the benefits of such home based care are achieved at a cost to the informal carer.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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