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Every day, 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility for someone who’s unable to care for themselves. But many of these people don’t think of themselves as ‘carers’. 

If you regularly support and assist someone, use this guide to find out what you can do to look ater your own health and wellbeing.

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Find out more about being a carer

When you're a carer it can seem a normal part of life, and for lots of us it is. By taking time to understand your rights, where to get help and why you need to take time out to look after yourself you'll be in a better place to help those you support. 

  • Am I a carer?

    'A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help due to illness, disability, mental ill health or a substance misuse problem.' (Carers UK)

    There are around 6.5 million people in the UK providing unpaid care to ill, frail or disabled family members or friends. If you’re working, almost one out of every eight of your colleagues is likely to be caring for someone too. 

    Do I have to be caring full-time? No. You could be caring full time, and have had to give up your job or your retirement. Or you could be juggling caring duties with a part-time job, or be working full time and providing care in the evenings and weekends. Other family members or friends, paid carers or social services may also be helping.

    Do I have to be caring long-term? No. You may be in a supportive role for many years. Or you might just be caring for someone while they’re ill.

    Do I have to be of working age? No. You can be any age and be a carer. From a pensioner looking after their spouse to a young child who takes on caring duties for a parent or other family member.

  • What does caring involve?

    As a carer, you could be carrying out some or all of the following:
    • Physical care such as helping someone use the stairs, or get into and out of bed
    • Personal care such as helping someone wash, dress, or go to the toilet
    • Medical care such as giving someone medication or injections
    • Practical tasks such as cooking, doing housework, or managing personal finances
  • The impact of caring

    Caring can be rewarding, but it can also be physically, emotionally and financially challenging. Taking care of yourself is as important for you as it is for the person you care for.

    It’s common to feel a mix of emotions including stress, frustration and isolation. And you might feel as though your own health and wellbeing comes second, or maybe not at all.

    Caring can result in a number of pressures and you may experience any of the following: 

    Stress and anxiety. You may find it hard to switch off, have difficulty sleeping, or find you’re eating too much or too little. If you feel stressed or anxious over a long period, it can have a negative impact on your mental health.

    Feelings of isolation. Feeling guilty when you take time for yourself, or finding it hard to make any time to socialise or follow your own interests. As a result you could experience loneliness. 

    Physical health problems. For some people, caring is a round-the clock-responsibility. If your role involves constant lifting or carrying, you could have aches and pains, particularly in your back. You might not have time to get exercise or to cook healthy food. And if your sleep is disrupted, you may feel exhausted which in itself can make you more likely to become ill. 
  • What rights do carers have?

    If you are a carer you have your own rights and a range of benefits designed for you. Knowing these can help you get the support you need.

    Carer’s assessment. If you need support to help you with your caring duties, you’re entitled to a free carer’s assessment from your local authority. They'll consider your needs and find out what additional support they can provide to help. 

    Direct payments. If you’ve been assessed as requiring help from social services, you don’t have to accept the support they offer. Instead you can opt to receive direct payments to pay for services you choose.

    Carer’s Allowance. If you meet certain criteria (such as being over 16 and not in full-time education, and you don’t earn more than a certain amount) and you look after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you may be entitled to carer’s allowance benefit.

    Rights at work. If you balance a job with your caring duties, you have a number of workplace rights like; requesting flexible working and time off for emergencies.

Next steps

In our caring action plan we set out some practical things you can to to help support you in your role as a carer. We'll tell you where to go for help and advice and offer you ideas to help your own wellbeing.

More support

  • Our support services

    The Bank Workers Charity exists to support current and former bank employees. Find out more about the services and support we provide.
  • How to check your benefits

    This simple benefits calculator helps you find out if you’re entitled to means-tested benefits. And it’ll indicate if you’re entitled to non-means tested benefits too.

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