TACSI open sources peer support model for family carers
Co-designed with carers, Weavers helps carers manage the ongoing challenges of caring, reducing the stress of caring and increasing wellbeing. The model has been trialled in South Australia and open-sourced.
Carers have the lowest wellbeing of any population subgroup, with one in six having contemplated killing themselves. Three in five people will care for an ageing spouse, parent, friend or relative.
- There are 2,7 million people in Australia providing informal assistance 
- The estimated value of unpaid care in 2015 was $60.3 billion (3.8% of GDP) 
One-third of the 2.6 million Australians in unpaid caring roles have ‘severe’ or ‘extremely severe’ depression  and 90% don’t access Commonwealth Respite and Support Services.
(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012
(2) The Economic Value of Informal Care in Australia, 2015, Deloitte Access Economics 2015
(3) Dr Siobahn O’Dwyer is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Practice Innovation (Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University)
Our ambition and vision is big: that Weavers can be adapted and implemented anywhere around the world, truly changing the lives and experiences of people caring for a loved one. No carer left behind.
In early 2011 we did deep research to understand caring and co-designed an early model.
From there we tested early and often, including partnering with a local aged care provider.
Since then, we’ve open sourced the model.
“Before Weavers I had reached the point were I was ready to walk out the door and never come back. Weavers helped me explore the options of care for my wife.”- Family Carer
We learned that more resilient networks spread caring roles across a number of people, creating less pressure on just one person.
However, we also discovered that many carers take on the burden or care single handedly, and are hidden due to not identifying as carer, or accessing formal services and supports.
Through our prototyping and research we identified and embedded three key theories and frameworks within Weavers:
- Ambiguous loss helps make sense of the complex layers of grief that carers experience, including grief that is not socially recognised.
- Grief intervention supports carers through a process of acknowledgment, identifying possibilities, trying things and reflecting on how that went.
- Narrative practice is about tools and techniques that anyone can use. Narrative practice helps people identify their strengths that they can draw on in working through the challenges that they face as a carer.
In 2017 TACSI engaged an economist to determine the cost benefit ratio of implementing Weavers. It was found that over a three year period for every $1 invested results in $13 in benefit to the community.
Formal evaluation and the pilot of Weavers told us the program:
- Promotes better acess to formal care
- Increases the wellbeing of carers
- Creates meaningful roles for people with lived experience of caring
- Promote involvement of carers in the decisions that affect them and the people they care for
The open source materials have been downloaded more than 150 times, elements of the model have been used to inform programs in the UK, with a handful of implementation sites underway in Australia.