New app to provide support for Australian carers

Carers of people with disabilities are set to benefit from a new app being developed by Palliative Care Australia that provides access to a support network in times of need.

The app will offer a simple channel through which the carer will be able to communicate with friends and family if they need assistance.

Palliative Care Australia chief executive officer Liz Callaghan said many people wanted to help friends or family suffering from serious illnesses but didn’t know how.

“Our app will enable the primary carer of a person who is sick to share their specific needs,” Ms Callaghan said.

“It may be providing a meal, walking the dog or running an errand for them, or providing care for the sick person while their primary carer attends a meeting, a child’s sporting event, or takes a break.

“It will also allow [carers] to identify how they are feeling and whether they would like visitors, and the best time of the day to visit.”

The development of the app is being funded by the nib foundation, which gave the association a $50,000 grant.

Nib Foundation executive officer Amy Tribe said the demands placed on carers often created significant personal challenges, including feelings of isolation and stress.

“We’re proud to help PCA support carers by facilitating a first-of-its-kind platform that will allow the demands of their workload to be shared with family and friends in a structured and co-ordinated manner,” Ms Tribe said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 856,000 primary carers in Australia would benefit from the support.

Primary carer Christophe Kowarski said having a central platform to connect carers would solve the problem of trying to find someone to cover shifts.

“As a carer, at times I find myself in need of covering a shift [and] the current way of doing this is to have every other carer’s phone numbers in our contact, which is inefficient and wrong,” Mr Kowarski said.

“[The app] would benefit us carers greatly.”

Primary carer Greg Smith said the app would improve communication and help to develop a support network to ensure carers are assisted.

“As a carer, there is a great sense of responsibility to do everything. It’s hard to ask for help and family or friends often don’t know how they can help,” Mr Smith said.

“The app opens up communication and could possibly break down the invisible barrier that carers have in asking for, and accepting help.

“Family and friends are not only able to provide practical support for carers but they also help in maintaining a connection with life outside the caring role, vital for a carers emotional and mental wellbeing.”

The app will primarily connect the carer to friends and family during the launching stage, but it may allow them to connect with other carers in the future.

The app is expected to be launched in 2017.