Background: Well coordinated and integrated home based care is an efficient and cost effective model for providing long term care. There is, however, emerging evidence to suggest that family members pay a price for taking on long term care responsibilities at home.
Objective: This article draws on published literature to provide an overview of the health, economic, and social issues faced by informal carers. The objective is to contribute to the knowledge base of clinicians about the impact of chronic disease and disability on families taking on the care responsibility in a home environment, thereby informing the delivery of best practice.
Discussion: In 2006, there were approximately 632 694 primary carers aged 15 years or more in Australia. These carers collectively have the lowest level of wellbeing scored by any group, and compared to the general population have a significantly higher level of depression, were more likely to experience physical pain, and more likely to experience financial stress. Failure by clinicians to recognise the burden on informal carers may result in long term adverse outcomes for this group that may outweigh the benefits of managing people with disability and chronic illness in the community.