'Hidden gems' in spotlight

Carers are an integral and invaluable part of our community, and many have been recognised for their commitment during National Carers Week.

This year's National Carers Week is from October 11 to 17, and various events across the country celebrated those who dedicate their time to caring for both loved ones and strangers.

A morning tea was held at Murray Bridge Public Library on Wednesday, October 14 for unpaid carers from the Murray Mallee and Adelaide Hills.

Run by Carers SA, the morning tea also included access to a question-and-answer seminar which provided information about the new Carer Gateway Services and answered questions that matter most to carers.

Carers SA Adelaide Hills and Murray Mallee service delivery facilitator Fiona Forbes said carers were an essential part of the community who deserved recognition.

"Carers are the hidden gems in society," she said.

"They work quietly in the background for their loved ones, and they have lots of responsibilities. It's a selfless task, and we want to acknowledge and celebrate the work they do for loved ones and the community."

Ms Forbes is a carer herself, looking after her 91-year-old mother who is in the early stages of dementia.

She is passionate about those in the caring sector due to her own lived experience and seeing other carers doing similar work.

"I love working with these carers and their values," she said.

"Their motivation is love and wanting to be there to support their loved ones."

Carers SA chief executive officer David Militz said despite how rewarding it can be, being a carer was a demanding and often stressful role.

The 2020 National Carers Survey results released on Monday, October 12 showed almost half of South Australia's 250,000 unpaid carers are distressed.

Half of South Australia's survey participants said they were less than satisfied with their own health, more than one-third had given up a career or job opportunity due to their caring role, and nearly every one said being a carer had negatively impacted relationships.

Mr Militz said these results were sadly unsurprising.

"The demands of a caring role often mean that carers aren't as free to participate in society as their peers who do not have caring responsibilities, which can impact relationships, employment opportunities, and their own health," he said.

"As a society, what these results tell us is that we need to band together to support, and recognise, the enormous value of unpaid carers in our society, particularly during National Carers Week."

He said people became carers for various reasons, just like people needed care for various reasons.

"South Australia's unpaid carers play a critical role in our communities, supporting loved ones with a disability, mental illness, drug and/or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail and aged," he said.

"Unpaid carers play a significant and under-recognised role in improving the capacity of the disability and aged care service sectors, acting as a safety net for the community and helping to prop-up these systems."