Weavers is a peer-to-peer model supporting carers to address the significant challenges of caring for a loved one. The model has undergone a trial in South Australia and since August 2016 has been open-sourced. This is the first time an ageing and caring service will have been open-sourced in South Australia.
Caring for our ageing population is one of the greatest challenges facing our society; many carers bear a hidden burden that is detrimental to their wellbeing and can lead to burnout. Three in five people will care for an ageing spouse, parent, friend or relative. Carers have the lowest wellbeing of any population subgroup. One-third of the 2.6 million Australians in unpaid caring roles have ‘severe’ or ‘extremely severe’ depression and 90% of carers don’t access Commonwealth Respite and Support Services. In fact the vast majority of Australians in caring roles are not registered for carer support. They don’t identify as a carer: it’s just what they do for a loved one.
Weavers is a peer-to-peer model supporting carers to address the significant challenges of caring for a loved one. Weavers are people with lived caring experience; they truly understand what it’s like, and are trained to use this know-how to support carers in their local community. The model was co-designed with carers and tested over six months. A larger scale demonstration and evaluation of Weavers in metropolitan Adelaide has now been undertaken and the model has now been open-sourced.
People with personal caring experience are recruited, trained, and connected with carers in their community, helping them:
Underpinning the match between a Weaver and carer is a model of support that creates long-term behaviour change, using narrative therapy techniques, setting goals and adopting new ways to manage the caring journey.
Weavers use a set of tools designed to guide carers through an ‘adaptive caring loop’ – acknowledging each problem and its effects, identifying ways to address the problem, supporting the carer to try out these new methods, and reflecting on the outcome. The aim is to equip carers with tools and ways of looking at problems that create a sense of control and enable them to adapt to the growing needs of their loved one.
The Local Connector, a professional role, supports Weaver volunteers, sets up the match between a Weaver and carer and monitors progress of support provided. The Local Connector also runs regular get togethers over a meal to provide Weavers support and an opportunity to debrief.
The idea emerged from spending time with over 100 people in caring relationships in Unley and Salisbury in 2011. We found that many people were struggling with their caring role and facing a number of challenges. Yet there were also many people who had navigated these struggles and were managing well. Weavers aims to connect these two groups and in doing so reduce the stress of caring.
Following the prototyping phase, The National Health and Medical Research Council, Helping Hand, and Southern Cross Care have provided funding and support for a larger scale trial of the program to develop it further and create an evidence base. Since August 2016, Weavers has been open-sourced.
Open source refers to a program which is available to the general public for use and/or adaptation from its original design free of charge. It is a collaborative effort in which adopters improve upon the program and share the changes within the community. This is the first time an ageing and caring related service will have been open sourced in South Australia.