Ways to Manage Family Conflict Around Care Loads

5 Minute Read

© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions

Family conflict around care giving is commonplace.

I raise the subject now before families gather together and potentially upset each other during the festive season.

In my experience, care giving will land squarely with one sibling. As that sibling you have two choices – to resent your other siblings for landing the care load with you or accept it and move on.

For your own health I advise accepting it. In the end, when your parent dies, you will feel the inner content of having spent quality time with them – nothing left unsaid, no regrets.

With our seniors living longer, the care commitment can be over a decade and see the widowed parent moving into an adult child’s home.


Have an open conversation with your elderly parent

There are ways to share the load with others. I suggest that you sit down with your elderly parent and ask them what they want and need to remain independent and who they would like to spend their time with and how they would like to spend that time.

Be up front and say that as the primary caregiver, you’d like to have some time out during the year and, to make sure this happens, you’d like to work out a plan.

You should not feel guilty in having this conversation (refer previous blog: Overcoming the Guilt Felt as a Carer). Remember, your loved does not want to be a burden to you. They do not want or expect you to become a selfless servant. They want you to look after yourself.


Organise a yearly roster

The best way I have seen this planning take place is through organising a yearly roster. Families have rosters around outings, celebrations and holidays planned for the year. The same can be applied to caring for an elderly parent, be they living with you or still in their own home.

Draw up the roster with the following in mind:

  • Allocate time for your siblings to spend time with your parent. This could be as little as spending one day every three months or as big as a week away. Working on and around public holidays is a good way to go as it’s likely your siblings will be available.

  • Get live-in help from your siblings when you are away. Often, older people do not like to be moved around, particularly where dementia is present. If this is the case and your parent lives with you, suggest to a sibling that they come and stay while you are away.

  • Be mindful of not unsettling your elderly parent. Do not unsettle your elderly parent by giving them what I call the “seagull experience”. This is where the sibling arrives on the scene, takes your parent away on a busy holiday, and lands them back with you very stressed and perhaps unwell from the experience.

    The “seagull experience” can be avoided by conveying to your sibling, early on, the type of holiday experience your parent would like to share. Be very specific, even down to their preferred diet and whether or not they are happy to eat out.

  • Involve family friends, neighbours and volunteers in your roster. Their involvement could be as little as visiting once every month for an afternoon cup of tea or walk.

  • In-home care is also an option. A professional carer is engaged to visit on a regular basis and spend time with your parent. To access subsided in-home care an aged care assessment will need to take place through the Australian Government’s My Aged Care[1].


  • Consider day respite care[2], one day a week at a local community centre. Organised by care providers the day commences with a bus picking up your parent around 10 am and dropping them home around 3 pm, after having spent a day enjoying some activities.


  • Communicate about taking a carer's break. If you are seeking a carer’s break of a few weeks, raise with your parent the idea of a respite stay of two weeks at a residential care facility. This can be an enjoyable experience, particularly where family friends have moved into the same facility and where the facility hosts numerous activities such as day outings.

    You can access up to 63 days of government subsidised residential respite care in a financial year, and it is possible to extend this by 21 days at a time[2]. Access to this type of care requires an aged care assessment and you will need to pay a basic daily fee. The fee amount is assessed according to your means, with the maximum basic daily fee currently being $53.56 per day. Your parent will have their own private room with a bathroom. The daily fee includes all meals and regular activities. There may be additional charges for special organised outings for residents.


Share the proposed roster and gain commitments

With a draft roster drawn up and agreed between yourself and your parent, speak to this roster with your sibling during the coming summer break. Seek their commitment to spending the scheduled time and spending it in a manner suitable to your parent.

In the disappointing event of receiving a point blank refusal, ask them to contribute monetarily to pay for periods of residential respite care or regular in-home care so that you may take your planned breaks.


Seek more help

If you need help balancing your care commitments, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion on possible solutions.

DR Care Solutions offers expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place. 

- Contact Danielle - For An Impartial & Confidential Conversation


[1] My Aged Care: Apply for an Assessment
[2] My Aged Care: Respite Care

Danielle Robertson

Danielle Robertson

Working with you and your support network to get the right care outcomes for you and your loved ones. Danielle Robertson is founder and CEO of DR Care Solutions, offering aged care and disability care concierge services and expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place. Danielle's experience in the Australian care sector spans over three and a half decades. Now that's a lot of experience, wisdom and networks!