You are here

  1. Home
  2. Effective integration of caregivers and families as part of the care team for people with cancer

Effective integration of caregivers and families as part of the care team for people with cancer

Informal caregivers (referred to as caregivers within this article) play a significant part in enabling community-based models of cancer care and survivorship, whereby patients manage much of their disease and treatment outside of clinical settings. Caregivers are fundamental to healthcare in Australia, with a replacement value of $77.9 billion. Caregivers are a highly important group as they allow people diagnosed with cancer to remain at home and out of hospitals for longer than would have been possible without the caregivers involvement. [...]impacts on quality of life, a lack of sleep, reduced time for themselves and impacts on their own relationships can contribute to caregivers' levels of burden and distress. Given the experience of care provision, it is not surprising that cancer caregivers report high levels of anxiety, distress and burden. However, it is also important to acknowledge that many caregivers are able to identify positive aspects to the role, including allowing the person with cancer to remain home for longer and spending time together. The role of the general practice team The general practice team - including GPs, practice nurses, allied health professionals and administrative staff - is ideally positioned to support cancer caregivers. There are three key barriers to identifying and supporting caregivers in primary care. First, taking on the care of another person is often gradual, and it is hard to recognise the commencement of caregiving. Second, as the health of the person with cancer deteriorates, the caring role becomes all-encompassing and caregivers are unable to manage their own needs and supports. Finally, there is ambiguity regarding the legitimacy of caregiver needs. Health professionals have noted that caregivers can stand on the sidelines and be outsiders, with health professionals facing their own challenges to incorporate caregivers into the unit of care. There are two key ways in which GPs and others in the primary healthcare team can deliver support for caregivers. Acknowledging and integrating caregivers as part of the care team As caregivers are not explicitly involved in the relationship between the patient and healthcare provider, they can be rarely invited to participate. Given that the oncology team - including oncologists, hospital-based specialists, nurses and allied health professionals - can be focused on the patient's physical and mental health, the GP is someone who is well positioned to be able to check on the caregiver's physical and mental health.

Access source material through DOI
Original source (some source materials require subscription or permission to access)

Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Australian Journal of General Practice
Volume Number
Start Page
End Page