A tool to help carers gauge their readiness to provide care to a patient on discharge from acute care – the Carer Readiness Tool – was implemented on two cancer/renal inpatient units. Data on carer needs and concerns obtained from the Carer Readiness Tool revealed that relatively inexperienced carers focused their concerns on practical aspects of care, such as mobility, transfers, aids and equipment, transport and parking. More experienced carers reported fewer needs but more concerns, including respite from caring, costs of caring and end-of-life care. Challenges in engaging carers in research, which impacted the formal evaluation of the Carer Readiness Tool, are discussed.
The Carer Support Unit of the Central Coast Local Health District (New South Wales, Australia) is working with the District’s inpatient cancer services to improve the identification of caring relationships for cancer inpatients. The first stage of the project was to do a literature review and environmental scan to assess the extent of the issue. We found significant barriers to carer identification, including: carer self-identification issues; definitional issues around the label ‘carer’; system and process issues; and health workforce issues. This article outlines the findings of the literature review and environmental scan, supported by quotes from carers and health professionals. It incorporates recommendations for increasing the rate of carer identification for cancer inpatients at Central Coast Local Health District.